TONICA — Some things common in spring in Tonica have been missing, starting with ballgames at the park.
But there’s some activity around town, such as the village employees’ continued efforts to clean up what was once a regional showplace, Tonica Nursery and Flowerwood Florist.
And on May 4, the village board voted without dissent to allow the youth baseball and softball association to sell — and remove — all of the remaining nursery trees on that former property of the nursery.
Village President Kevin Sluder and village trustee Bob Foltynewicz said the local baseball association wants to conduct a drive-up auction of the remaining trees on the nursery property west of the baseball diamond.
“Folty” said the association has acquired equipment to remove the trees and place them in people’s cars and trucks. He said the association plans to receive bids by May 16; all trees will be sold as is.
Folty said the association plans to observe social distancing rules and to take appointments on tree pickup day, May 17. The village will require the association to remove the unsold trees promptly — within days, not weeks.
The village acquired the Ken Alleman family’s 4-acre property at the busy southeast corner of the Ray Richardson Road and Route 251 for $180,000 last June. That intersection has been seeing quite a bit of traffic even during coronavirus stay-at-home orders, due to the new Dollar General and new Casey’s General Store and gas station not far from the Interstate 39 interchange.
Sluder said employees will continue to clean up the property and eventually inspect the buildings to see if any of them still would be suitable for a business use. Much of the initial work included brush removal.
The village wants to use some of the east side of the property for parking. When there are ballgames, parking had overflowed to Ray Richardson Road. And there are fewer places to park along the roadway and more traffic since the Dollar General opened.
Sluder said the village will try to market some of the property along the highway for development that would bring in sales tax revenue. If nobody wants to invest in a business venture at that location, the road frontage could, at least temporarily, become parkland.
On May 4, the village board agreed to organize a sealed-bid auction of certain items from the property, and the board passed an ordinance allowing the sale or disposal of unneeded personal property from the land.
“We can dispose of it in any appropriate way,” Sluder said, noting the village needs to clear out the items.
Village employees and officials have heard a lot of interest in some hoop-house greenhouses, and the village will welcome bids on those. There’s also a pile of vermiculite that the village does not need; a village trustee suggested that the baseball association give each of the tree buyers some vermiculite. There’s also a pile of lime and a silo.
“We are not trying to make money on this,” Sluder said, referring to many of the items and materials.