Local

Aldermen Approve Controversial Liquor License, Ameren Contract
Aldermen Approve Controversial Liquor License, Ameren Contract

The Springfield city council convincingly overruled the home alderman and approved a liquor license so a bar and grill, owned and operated by those who owned Scandals, can relocate to South 11th Street.

Ward 2 Alderman Gail Simpson was concerned she has too many bars in her ward per capita, but some of Scandals’ supporters, including Brenda Protz, thought there were other motives.

“We’re bickering over whether two white guys, two gay white guys, could open up a restaurant and an establishment that serves liquor where they are seemingly a minority,” said Protz.

Simpson, appearing offended by the notion, said sexual orientation and race had nothing to do with her opposition. She did, however, explain why she was against the new restaurant — something she failed to do during last week’s committee of the whole meeting.

“In an area where there’s no economic business development other than bars, taverns… we can’t sustain it,” said Simpson. “The residents in that area deserve better.”

Restaurant supporters asked if she would rather the building at 1031 South 11th Street remain vacant, to which Simpson replied potential business owners should think outside the box and try to put something else in there.

She was the only one to vote against the license, Ward 5 Alderman Sam Cahnman voted present.

It’s Not Perfect, But We’ll Take It

Despite their concerns, Springfield aldermen have approved a new 10 year contract with Ameren that will allow the utility to install and maintain its gas infrastructure in the city.

At issue: the city wanted more assurances that Ameren would clean up after itself in a timely manner. Aldermen complain Ameren frequently starts work, then leaves it. They wanted a remedy through codified time tables or fines, and Ward 4 Alderman Frank Lesko was one of two council members to vote against the contract.

“In just saying ‘no’, they’re not interested in putting in a timetable, and ‘no’, they’re not interested in being fined, I don’t think that’s working with us,” said Lesko. “I would like to see [us] reapproach it.”

The new contract says the utility will clean up in a reasonable time frame, and public works has received direct contact information for Ameren higher ups. The city’s budget director says that provides at least some method to take the utility to court if it’s in breach, which never existed before.