WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Bushnell Bans Big Billboards

Bushnell, IL – When a large billboard was erected at the corner of Davis Street and Illinois Route 9 in Bushnell a few months ago, Mayor Steve Russell heard about it.

Some residents were upset, and called it an eyesore.

This week, the Bushnell City Council took action to make sure no such billboards are ever erected again.

Russell says the new ordinance states a business can put up a billboard advertising their services on their land. Any outside business that wants to advertise their services can construct a sign no larger than four feet by eight feet.

The mayor says he did not want to outlaw billboards completely.

"We still wanted to let the businesses uptown down along [Route 41], but also keep it so that it's not obstructing traffic and that they're no bigger than four by eight," says Russell. "We figured four by eight would catch all the signs."

But the billboard that sparked the debate will stay put. Russell says the so-called "eyesore" is grandfathered, meaning it was put in place before the ordinance took effect.

Spending More Than Anticipated

In other business, Mayor Russell learned there were cast iron water pipes underneath three blocks of the city that had not been previously accounted for. He says it will likely cost about $25,000 per block to replace the pipes.

"The engineer is getting on it as quickly as he can," says Russell. "We're going to try to get a grant for the design and get the permits from the state."

Russell says the city has to apply for financial assistance as if it were a completely different project because loans and grants for the water main separation project have already been awarded. He says the city will look into federal grants and/or low interest loans from the Illinois EPA.

The mayor says he isn't discouraged.

"I don't see this as a setback," he says. "It's just, we had hoped when we spent $1.5 million on what the total project was going to be, we were hoping we'd have all the cast iron pipes would be taken care of, and therefore the people of Bushnell wouldn't have to worry about the 'red water' so to speak."

Bushnell leaders have long blamed rusting of the current cast iron pipes as the reason for the city's red-tinted water supply, which was one of the driving forces of the project. Despite the color, it's been determined that Bushnell's water is safe to drink.