The Galesburg City Council needed a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Sal Garza to complete the sale of two lots on West First St.
Aldermen deadlocked over whether to sell the adjacent properties at 569 and 593 West First to the neighbors - Edgreal and Oletha Wallace of 597 West First - or to St Mary's Square Living Center.
The Wallaces bid $200 for the first lot and $1,000 for the second. St Mary's bid $325 for each with the bid contingent upon receiving both parcels.
Garza voted in favor of the bid from the not-for-profit agency. He said the Wallaces had no development plan for the land whereas St Mary's plans to build a group home.
“So it gives a great opportunity for new construction, new investment, as well as the opportunity for job creation,” Garza said.
St Mary's also bought lots at nine other locations around town to build group homes. Garza said St Mary's will add 50 to 100 employees when the homes are built. He said it already employs 250 people.
The other property sales to St Mary's were approved by aldermen without a hitch.
The social service agency will transition its developmentally disabled clients to those homes from its current facility on South Cherry Street near the courthouse.
Garza hopes the county will consider that location for its non-judicial offices. He said the site could alleviate overcrowding at the courthouse while sparing the expense of constructing a new building for county offices.
“It offers a lot of benefits. My hope is the Knox County Board would give that serious consideration to see if there is any potential there for them to partner with the current owner of that facility,” Garza said.
The mayor said he has held informal discussions with county representatives about the building.