By SAMANTHA PIDDE
The City of Mount Carroll is working with the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) to eventually provide the area with daycare at Shimer Square.
This past October GROWTH was awarded an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its Shimer Square Job and Daycare Creation Project. According to an October 2022 press release from GROWTH, the total project costs could exceed $1.3 million, with the additional amount funded through private sources.
GROWTH Vice President of Development Charlotte Flickinger and Construction Director Andrew Fisher attended the Tuesday, Jan. 10, Mount Carroll City Council meeting to request financial assistance form the city for a market survey.
Initial plans from GROWTH were to use an existing building within the campus. However, upon further review and consideration of daycare facility requirements, it was determined that adapting an existing building would cost a great deal more and new construction would be best suited to fit the needs of the children and the daycare provider. The daycare center is planned in a space just south of the parking lot along Seminary Street.
As part of the design process, GROWTH plans to conduct a market survey to assess the exact needs and scope of the project. GROWTH representatives requested the city support the survey by donating $17,000, using Business Development District (BDD) tax funds.
Mayor Carl Bates encouraged the council to support the survey in this way, saying, “They can’t make a decision. We can’t make a decision (without the survey).”
The mayor assured the council that he had spoken with TIF attorney Kathy Orr and confirmed that BDD funds could be used for this purpose.
Bates and the council also discussed where the survey should be conducted. While Bates recommended using the West Carroll School District as a guide, he added that mailing the survey to Chadwick and Lanark also might make sense.
Ald. Nancy Bandemer agreed that people living further away might utilize the daycare center, saying, “They would drive 30 or 40 minutes for great child care.”
Ald. Mike Risko said the project is exciting and supported the survey, adding that everyone knows the area lacks adequate daycare but they do not have concrete numbers.
“This will give us more accurate data,” Risko said.
A motion to give GROWTH $17,000 of BDD funds for the project was approved 4-1. Ald. Jeff Elliott voted no, saying he did not want to use BDD funds. Ald. Joe Grim was absent.
Flickinger and Fisher thanked the council for the support.
The project continued to move forward, with the plat for the daycare center being heard Thursday, Jan. 12, by the Mount Carroll Planning Commission. The commission recommended approval of the plat, which the council will vote on at its Jan. 24 meeting.