The President’s Mesage

Our January membership meeting focused on an issue that has and will continue to affect our entire city, economically and ecologically. Representative from the city of Peoria’s Public Works department presented a program on the feasibility of establishing a dedicated funding stream for storm water management and the proposed use of green infrastructure that would help with sewer overflow problems.  Faced with mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency and the needs of its citizens, the City of Peoria formed an advisory committee to seek public input and help it manage its storm water infrastructure problems.

Among the issues the city faces is increasing regulatory requirements from the U.S. EPA. That agency has mandated that the city develop a long-term plan to reduce overflows from combined storm/sanitary sewers. That is because when storm water from rain or snow overwhelms combined sewers, untreated sewage discharges into the Illinois River. The city experiences 20 to 30 combined overflows a year, on average. These may occur at 16 outfall locations along the Illinois River. Overflows can occur with as little as 0.15 inches of rainfall.  Combined sewer overflows contribute to elevated bacteria levels and pose health risks to humans.

The One-Water Committee was established to find ways to reduce storm-water runoff in Peoria.  The committee includes a diverse group of stakeholders, including private property owners; large and small businesses; tax-exempt organizations; other governmental bodies, and environmental advocates. In addition to recommendations on possible ways to resolve the storm water issues, the group is also recommending a monthly residential fee range to help pay for upgrades to infrastructure that handles storm water runoff.   One possible funding stream could be a storm waterutility, such as storm water utilities in Morton, Eureka, Bloomington and Decatur. TheOneWater Committee has provided input on funding models and credits, such as for property owners who put greeninfrastructure on their properties. It also may help decide green infrastructure locations.

Green infrastructure could include impervious pavers and natural plantings.  The committee has also provided input on storm water management priorities, including inspecting underground pipes, repairing infrastructure, street sweeping and other issues.

There is a great deal more to learn about this  issue. We  are  fortunate  to  have a brief synopsis provided to us by the city, posted in this newsletter.  I suggest you read it as well as visit for more information.  There will be more follow up on this issue but I suggest you become familiar with the topic as this it affects us all!


Message from Councilman Chuck Grayeb

chuck-grayebBest wishes for a very prosperous New Year! Work and planning continue in the early days of 2016 for the execution of numerous Public Works projects in the MBRA area.

Firstly, the second set of electronic speed board signs have been erected east of University on West Moss as will be the creation of 2 speed tables for that stretch. In addition, we will soon have a colloquium for Cottage District residents to see if they would favor traffic circles and speedtables in their area which would replicate what The University
East NA has on the six streets north of Main along Russell.

In the Spring , Sheridan Road will be done from McClure to roughly Nebraska with new bridge work occurring at Richmond and Sheridan . 2016 will see the completion of University Street in District Two as well. A conscious decision was made by the Council to continue with the aggressive rebuild of our City infrastructure. This occurred after taxpayer input colloquia and months of Council deliberation. Full throttle on the gas also occurred as it relates to the rebuilding and increased staffing of our Police force.

Adrian Aguilar is our new Second District Resident Officer, and I hope we can soon invite him to an MBRA meeting. I also have the funding for a second Second District Resident Officer who will reside in the north central part of D 2.

We are working hard to fill the important Historic Preservation Commission vacancy, necessitated by the selection of Sidney Paul Ruckriegel to be the newly appointed At- Large Councilor to fill the seat vacated by new State Senator Chuck Weaver. I am so proud to see a bit more geographic balance in where the City Councilors live. A large majority of Reps have lived, for many decades, north of War Drive.

I hope we will soon see a vigorous inquiry into the lackluster response of Ameren to a storm predicted many days in advance. Some folks in District Two had no power for four days! May I conclude by thanking Beth Jensen and now Sid Ruckriegel for covering D2 issues and providing constituent service when I am on vacation and assisting with all 5 districts. We make a great team and I guarantee you that we will not let you down. Finally, Mayor Ardis remains a solid supporter of our heritage neighborhoods and I am honored to fill the seat which his Father once occupied.


Thru the Windshield

By Marjorie Kliseoo-logo

Speaking of orchids and onions…oh, yeah, we weren’t really speaking of that. But it is such a good way to clearly show the difference between good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant.

So, here is my summer onion:
My fence goes down. Hit by a car? Blown by the wind? No matter. It is down. So, I called my insurance agent and, yes, I have replacement insurance. He calls the adjustor. The adjustor looks and calls with a value (less than 1/5th of what I paid for it over fifteen years ago). Since the price of lumber and labor will have gone up over the years, I object. I go out looking for bids. It is a busy time for
carpenters who do custom work and I am late getting on their schedule but several come. Most want to put in a pre-fab fence. I want replacement. I make more calls. Finally, I have only one bid. So I call my agent again to seek some help. “Does he have a contractor I could contact…this must happen often in his line of business?” His response, after consultation with the ‘experts’ in the office, was “to try the Yellow Pages.” (As if I had been calling names and numbers off the police blotter). And then he added that “if you put in a claim, you know your premiums will go up.” Was that a threat? I give up. He wins. I don’t get a replacement fence. Really big ONION experience.

On the other hand we have to concentrate on the Orchids in our lives:
My gutters badly need a serious cleaning, and they are also showing age and wear, so I call my roofer. He comes out to the house. He doesn’t send an apprentice or an adjuster. He comes within 48 hours. He looks carefully, offers several ideas and finally, he suggests that another company could do a good job and cheaper. And they probably could get to it sooner. HE calls the company. HE gets the bid. HE sets up the appointment. And I am ready to go. MY hero! My ORCHID.

How do we live our lives? As Orchids? As Onions? I am trying really hard to forget the ‘smelly’ agent and enjoy the ‘fragrant’ roofers in my life. Life is too short for the negatives to take up so much room.


Featured Home of the Month: 437 High St. – Sumner R. Clarke Residence

By Tim Hartneck

high street.jpg

Sumner Clarke commissioned architect William Quayle to design this Bracketed Italianate styled house for his family in 1877.  Sadly, Clarke’s wife died at the age of 24 in November 1877, before the house was completed.  The following year, Clarke moved into the house with his two children, Robert, age 4 and Anna, age 2.  In 1900, Clarke hired Chicago architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee to prepare plans for the renovation and remodeling of his home.  The changes to the house included the addition of the copper clad bays and the broad limestone porch, as well as extensive interior work.  The renovations cost $8,000.  This was at a time when the same amount of money could have built two two-story, three bedroom houses.

Sumner Clarke died in 1907 at age 59.  He is generally identified with the family business, Clarke Bros. & CO. (the largest distillery in the world), makers of Clarke’s Pure Rye. He was involved in many different businesses throughout his career, including:

  • Partner in the Manhattan Distillery here in Peoria
  • Owned over 15,000 acres of agricultural land in Illinois and Arkansas
  • President and principle investor in the School House Construction Company with offices in Peoria and New York
  • Owned a gold mine in Arizona
  • Principle owner of Peoria’s Peoples Gas & Electric Company
  • President of the Dime Savings Bank.



5 Worst Mistakes of Historic Homeowners, Part 4: Plaster

from The Craftsmen Blog Lath_plaster-wall

The walls of many pre-war houses are most likely wood lath, like in the picture below, covered with 3 coats of plaster. The work took a long time and was very labor intensive. Not to mention it required a skilled plasterer to make sure the plaster was properly applied and the wall was smooth and level.

Then when the GIs returned home from WWII, the baby (and housing) boom hit America, and there was a huge demand for quick, affordable housing. A new product was just beginning to get some traction in the wall covering business called gypsum board or sheet rock. It was a wall that could be screwed or nailed to the studs by a relatively unskilled laborer at close to twice the speed and half the cost of the traditional 3-coat system. And since this wall wasn’t applied wet like plaster it could be painted right away and thus got the nickname “drywall.”

A traditional 3-coat plaster is typically 7/8″ thick and when you add in the 1/4″ wood lath that supports the plaster wall you have a wall that is more than 1″ thick! Compared to today’s most common drywall thickness of only 1/2″, that is a difference worth noting.

Today the cost of a full 3-coat plaster wall is still expensive and timely to install, but when you live in an old house with one already installed you should try to reap the benefits of someone else’s labor all those years ago.

All too often we see historic houses gutted to the studs to install new drywall to replace the “outdated” plaster. Sometimes the plaster has been neglected past the point of no return, but most times it can be repaired. Usually it’s torn out in the name of insulating the wall cavities. But as with anything in the building trades, there is more than one way to skin a cat! In order to save folks the mess and expense of tearing out their walls we recommend removing a few clapboards on the exterior in order to insulate the house to modern standards. Remember, historic homes typically have no plywood sheathing under the siding so insulating with this method is just as effective plus it’s faster, cleaner, and much cheaper!

Here’s just a few of the benefits of having a real plaster wall to consider before you think about removing yours:
1. Thicker walls mean better sound dampening.
2. Thicker walls mean double the R-value of ordinary drywall.
3. Wood lath serves to strengthen the wall by adding additional racking resistance.
4. Plaster increases the historical authenticity and therefore resale value of a historic home.
5. It’s already there! It’s always “greener” and cheaper to retain existing elements.

Hopefully, this has given you some things to think about when it comes to your plaster walls. If you’d like to read more about repairing and maintaining your historic home’s walls check out our website.

City of Peoria Stormwater Utility

Peoria is currently facing many wet weather-related issues that impact the safety, beauty, and sustainability of our community. Scott Reeise and Andrea Klopfenstein from the Department of Public Works connected with the Moss Bradley Neighborhood to discuss stormwater issues, combined sewer overflow (CSO) issues, and the feasibility of a stormwater utility to resolve these problems. A stormwater utility would operate just like other public services, such as wastewater and electricity, and would be priced on usage. Many other Illinois cities, including Morton and Eureka, are implementing stormwater utilities in order to manage the impact of wet weather in a responsible and equitable way.

To learn more about wet weather management, please visit or contact Public Works at 309-494-8800.