Tempers flare over funding for underpass in Uptown Normal
PEORIA (25 News Now) - The Normal Town Council is accepting the federal government’s offer to provide additional funding as inflationary pressures are expected to increase the cost of an underpass in Uptown Normal.
However, angry rhetoric preceded the council’s 5-1 vote to receive almost $3.16 million in federal money.
Despite inflation worries, town leaders are still estimating it will cost $24 million to build the underground pathway for bike riders and pedestrians to cross the Union Pacific train tracks.
Town staff have secured additional state and federal dollars assuming inflation will increase the cost.
Council member Stan Nord said town leaders have not been upfront about the cost with the public or state and federal officials.
“It’s the honest and transparent part of government that I see is lacking,” said Nord.
“If us as citizens would play this game with the federal government and say we just want to get some more money for whatever benefit we’re trying to get, and we just pad the numbers. We’ll end up in jail. But for us to do that, the comment is ‘you’re just sensationalizing,’’' said Nord.
Council member Kathleen Lorenz responded angrily to Nord’s comment.
“I am offended by the words you use to say that we’re padding and that we’re being immoral, and that we’re going to end up in jail,” said Lorenz.
“You immediately and always take it to a toxic and immoral storyline that just is baseless,” she added.
Lorenz noted she’s criticized the underpass project in the past, but “even I’m comfortable what’s going on here.”
Council member Kevin McCarthy celebrated that while the cost of the underpass is likely going up, the share paid by local taxpayers is remaining the same at almost $1.7 million or about 6.2% of the project.
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