WMAY’s exclusive post-election sit-down with Ward 5 Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase


The sun was shining on that Friday. It was a nice day for a walk in Downtown Springfield, with a slight breeze and a cool blue sky above. There are so many shops and interesting little sites as you walk up Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth streets, that it seems a new discovery might be made each time one goes by.

We were on our way on this day, to speak with the recently victorious incumbent alderperson of Springfield’s Ward 5 – still fresh off of her early April victory – but we were not going to an office space.

No, no studio or politically professional setting would be housing this particular interview; instead, we would be enjoying our time chatting at the Resource One showroom in Downtown Springfield – across the way from The Whimsy Tea Company.

And, when we finally walked into the lovely showroom at 321 E Adams St., it did not take us very long to find the Alderwoman – patiently and enthusiastically waiting – in a lovely midcentury modern chair, in jeans, a t-shirt, and her seemingly-trademarked winged and bejeweled glasses.

Ms. Purchase is serious and ambitious as a politician, and as a person with a position and obligation toward others; she is, however, a person first and foremost – a human being just like those she does her best to serve.

It had been some time since last we saw one another, and her eyes lit up as she saw us walk into the showroom; she gleefully noted her triumph only days prior as we found seats to get comfortable in.

“I am thrilled to have had such a huge showing of support from the voters. That really speaks to the close connection I work to maintain with my constituents….That connection is something I enjoy not just during election season, but throughout each year.”

Humans, however, have many, many other sides to them – as well as stories and histories – which are all but mere parts of their greater whole.

“My father is a Letter Carrier for the Post Office and remains very active in the community on behalf of the union. I often joined him in various activities such as food giveaways. But, it’s also no secret that my godmother is the Senate Majority Leader, Kimberly Lightford.

I lived with my god mom all throughout high school, and I used to go to all of her women’s meetings – I used to be the kid that would hand the candy out and run up to the door. So my major ended up being political science with a minor in speech communications. And after seeing my godmother do the work that she did in the community and the money she would bring back home to her community, it was kind of like in my blood. And she [Kimberly Lightford] was just like, you can do this yourself!

As a competitive runner, much of my early college experience revolved around sports. After tearing my hamstring and my inability to bounce back, I turned my attention to activism and public service. I organized a student lobby to fight the elimination of MAP grants, with buses from Carbondale and SIU-Edwardsville to Springfield, as well as a mail & phone campaign to fight for this much-needed student financial support. I worked for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and was subsequently a Vince Demuzio Intern, which led to my current position with IDOT.

When Majority Leader Lightford moved up – at the time – to assistant Majority Leader, I thought, ‘maybe I could run for park board.’ And now, who was our State Senator at that time? Doris Turner, and she was like, ‘Well, no, I want you to try Capitol Township,’ I said, ‘what is that?’ And she goes, ‘We’re gonna learn what it is.’

So prior to my role as Alderwoman, I served as Capital Township trustee. I was proud of my work to educate the public about the role of township government and to connect citizens to the vital resources available to them. That work helped lessen the burden of the pandemic by partnering with agencies that provided resources to residents.

And, in my short time as Alderwoman, I have voted to pass a historic budget to give necessary funding to improve the City and my ward, particularly focused on providing more resources to our police and fire departments and other first responders.”

But what, in her experience, is it like to be the Alderwoman of Ward 5 in Springfield? As she heads into a full term in the position, she reflected upon what her life has thus far consisted of in the position – both in the good and bad – as well as what her mindset was during the recent, heated election campaign, and what it is when she speaks to colleagues and discusses ordinances and the like.

“Let’s talk about what Ward 5 looks like – that was one of your questions. Yes, absolutely. It’s a very mixed-use ward. I have my neighborhood associations, primarily Vinegar Hill. Enos Park, Linkin Park, and right behind Springfield High School. That area going up to MacArthur is considered part of the historic West Side neighborhood association.

Then you have the Medical District. I’m over both hospitals – Memorial and St. John’s. And then you have – what I call – the economic engine of the city of Springfield: our downtown. We have so many gems in Ward 5 when it comes to the Presidential Museum and Library, the Oak Ridge cemetery too; plus, we have our state employees here. We also have the Old State Capitol with its own, lovely history as well.

Every night, 80% of my job is responding to emails, phone calls, and text messages…I feel like it’s my obligation – as your representative – to tell you what’s going on and keep you in the loop for the sake of transparency…I think the biggest concern in Ward 5 was that people didn’t feel a part of the process; they weren’t educated concerning what the process of getting a pothole filled entails.

So, I do a lot of emails, and I CC my constituents on the emails that go to all of the departments – the respective departments – and I say ‘Hey, can we put in a ticket order,’ then at the end, I always mention that an updated status would be greatly appreciated. So then they [the department or departments in question] can tell me when they put it [the work order] in, and when they’re expected to go out. So I think people have just really appreciated being a part of the process.

I believe in building bridges, making no permanent enemies, and they say permanent friends, but I feel like we’re a family up there. I respect everybody. I may have raised my energy a little bit higher. A few times here and there, but I always have tried my best to respect people…They [those individuals who ran against Alderwoman Purchase] both said negative things about me during the election – or their camps said negative things about me, and I’m human. So some of it was hurtful.

But at the end of the day, if I’m preaching to the next generation to stay above the fray, I have to practice what I’m preaching; I need to be an example. So I took that very seriously too. And it taught me – during this process – a lot of patience. That is, self-reflection, and figuring out the things that I can do to keep my nerves calm – no matter what.”

Throughout our time together, Alderwoman Purchase keeps a thoughtful, kind, and open perspective. We chatted about the importance of groups like ICON and other community and neighborhood collectives, about what the people of the communities really care about; individuals quietly walked in and out of the Resource One showroom all the while, as the sun set a marvelous scene outside as two in the afternoon neared three.

Alderwoman Purchase – looking out towards Springfield’s May 5 inauguration – then discussed her focuses in Ward 5, across the entirety of Springfield, plus the City Council, how it must operate, and why functioning in a certain manner is so critical for the city of Springfield moving forward – as much as anything else.

“I focus my work as Alderwoman on four priorities: economic vitality, public safety, infrastructure improvements, and quality neighborhoods. They are all interwoven. My commitment is to ensure the fundamental rights to personal safety, quality housing, and a job that can support a family. Those principles serve as the guide to my decision-making.

It is a question of balance in the allocation of resources. I am fiercely devoted to the needs of Ward 5. A little experience as Alderwoman has taught me to balance resources not only across Ward 5 but across Springfield as a whole. We are only as healthy as our neediest area. I look forward to working with the new mayor and the new city council to make sure all areas’ needs are met.

But [concerning civility on the City Council], if you see the City Council arguing and treating one another poorly, then how can I expect you to bring it to us in a professional manner yourself – if you watch us disrespect each other all the time? So I just want people to take accountability for their actions; we can agree to disagree, but we have to have some type of decorum up here.”

As our time together became ever more fleeting, and each party was thanking the other for the time, thoughtful questions, and answers, Alderwoman Purchase noted her enthusiasm for the work that she has ahead of her with the City Council members – new and old.

My commitment is to ensure the fundamental rights to personal safety, quality housing, and a job that can support a family; those principles serve as the guide to my decision-making each and every day…I’m excited to work with [the] new Council members and the new Mayor to hear the new ideas they wish to bring forth. As for things I plan to work on, I’m very excited about increasing UIS’ presence downtown.”

LaKeisha smiled further, and as we all left Resource One on our way onward on such a lovely Friday afternoon in Springfield, one sentence, in particular, rang in our ears across the rest of the day.

“Sometimes you have to take a gamble or risk in the present in order for more positive actions and accomplishments to be possible moving forward.”

Our thanks to Alderwoman Purchase, her staff, as well as the entire staff of Resource One for their time, thoughtfulness, and hard work.

The Lofts on Madison gets go-ahead; city council adds labor agreement amendment

The Lofts on Madison gets go-ahead; city council adds labor agreement amendment


The full Springfield City Council Tuesday gave its approval to a $28.3 million proposed development by a New York company at Fifth and Madison streets, but not before adding an amendment ensuring that a Project Labor Agreement has to be negotiated in the future.

The unanimous vote signals the go-ahead for Adirondack Community Development to move forward with its lenders on The Lofts on Madison project.

There was an initial motion to hold the ordinance for two weeks after some council members pointed out that they only received the developer’s agreement at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

An amendment was added about the PLA, but Victor Salerno, the chief executive officer of Adirondack, said he has already had “a number of discussions” with the Central Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council and “we’ve given verbal commitments that we would enter into a PLA.”

“(I was) a little surprised it got added into the legislation, but at the end of the day we were going to enter into one anyway,” Salerno said afterward the meeting. “We’re happy about it. We’re excited to move forward.”

Under a PLA, terms and conditions of employment for specific building projects are negotiated between the developer and unions, including percentages of the local workforce, women, and minorities on the project.

The project would bring 136 “market rate apartments” to downtown Springfield and the Mid-Illinois Medical District.

The landing spot for the complex, 301 N. Fifth St.– the north side of Madison Street between Fourth and Fifth streets — has been a vacant lot for at least the last 50 years, city officials said.

It includes 87 one-bedroom, 30 two-bedroom and 19 three-bedroom units on the upper five floors. Rent would range from $1,100 to $1,450m monthly.

There would be retail space on the first floor and Salerno said again Tuesday “he would love to see a Trader Joe’s” or some other market go into the spot.

The project is unique because the 1.1-acre site will be its own TIF district. Details of the TIF will need to go back to city council for approval.

“This is a self-financed project in the sense that you’re only going to get money from that TIF if the assessed value of that vacant parking lot somehow becomes so much valuable with (a 136-unit development),” pointed out Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin.

School District 186 board member Bill Ringer said Monday that D186 personnel wasn’t contacted about the property going into “a targeted TIF.”

“It’s important to us that we’re going to possibly be giving up a future revenue stream for a very long time,” Ringer said after Monday’s school board meeting. “We educate our kids using property tax money.”

Salerno said lenders are looking closely at interest rates.

The approval moves the project, Salerno said, from “pie in the sky to an actual working path.”

“We’ve been telling them that there’s going to be a TIF and there’s going to be expansion of the enterprise zone, but until there’s legislation passed that says the city is going to do this, there wasn’t much further we could go (with lenders).

“We would like to go lock in our financing as quickly as possible. This is still a very rate-sensitive environment, and all our numbers are predicated on rates not going up that much more.”

Adirondack would put in about $3 million in private equity and independent financing of about $21 million.

The Lofts on Madison would create 40 full-time retail and commercial jobs and 10 full-time employees working on the property side as leasing agents, maintenance supervisors and a community manager.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said he wasn’t surprised about the PLA because it has come up as a talking point with other projects, like Poplar Place.

“What I appreciate now with the city council,” Langfelder said, “is they had the foresight to move forward with the project instead of delaying it because the developer is taking the risk and it’s important that he does get his financing in place before the end of the year.

“Everybody is in agreement that it is going to be a great project of rejuvenation for downtown and the medical district. This was an important step.”

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, sspearie@sj-r.com, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.

SPD, Mayor and Alderwoman Purchase reopen Qik N EZ-north-end substation

SPD, Mayor and Alderwoman Purchase reopen Qik N EZ-north-end substation


Springfield police are reopening a substation inside a north-end convenience store – and WMAY was there to hear what SPD Chief Scarlette, Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase, and Mayor Jim Langfelder had to say concerning this local innovation.

The substation was originally part of the Qik N EZ store at 5th and South Grand when it opened in 2002 – but the substation was closed years ago when the store’s owners decided to utilize the space for other purposes.

But, in response to concerns about crime and mass gatherings in the area, the facility has been reopened.

Police Chief Scarlette said – amongst other things – “Well – many of you may remember that, over the last couple of years, this area has been plagued with pop-up parties, as well as drug use, drug trafficking, and homelessness issues.

And we believe that through the relationships with the mayor’s office as well as Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase and the relationship with key stakeholders like Chronister Oil, we can bring an end to this nefarious activity; that begins with the positive police presence that we will have here today – beginning today in this substation.”

Furthermore, it was noted that the substation will now provide a place for officers to engage with residents in the area, and also give them a spot to write reports and carry out other official duties.

Mayor Jim Langfelder noted that “…we thank the neighborhood associations – the Enos Park neighborhood associations, the Lincoln Park neighborhood associations – they really strengthen and stabilize the area. But what this shows is [that] the police department are really the connecting point that brings all of us together.

And that’s what this really means to me, with regards to this particular project, and having it reopened is so it can be a safe haven for people to come in, and really engage the police officers – the men and women of our police force – which are second to none, in my opinion; we don’t have enough time to go over that…”

Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase of Ward 5 also thanked Qik N EZ – CEO Damon Cranford was present at the opening – while going over what this innovation means to this part of the community.

“… just very grateful – this is a good day for Springfield. It’s my favorite word – safety. I think when Chief Scarlett was appointed, the first thing that I had asked was, ‘could we reopen a substation?’; I have one of my neighborhood presidents here – Bill Basket – and that was a concern for Lincoln Park. There was a lot of activity going on from the pop-up parties down the street at our old Shop N Save building, to incidents happening right across the street.

So I felt like that [police] presence is what will make people feel safer over in the neighborhood, and allow people to engage with each other….I just want to echo what Chief Scarlett said – and thank you, Damon too, because this would not be possible without you – the partnership that you’re bringing in, and saying that ‘this is something that I want to do, and I will provide the space for you all.’ So thank you.”

Patriotic dogs strut their stuff at pageant


Many celebrated the Fourth of July holiday weekend with the cutest dogs in the Capital City.

The Springfield Jaycees and Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase hosted a patriotic dog pageant as part of the Capital City Celebration Saturday evening.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes came out to strut their stuff in hopes of winning some sweet prizes.

Organizers say that it’s great to give the community an adorable show.

“It’s a way for the community to come out and enjoy our furry friends,” said Ellyn Thomson, president of the Springfield Jaycees. “And on top of that, we are benefiting the APL food assistance program tonight so all of the entries and, as well as our raffles, will all be going towards the food assistance program which benefits our community.”

Saturday’s winners received a basket filled with goodies provided by local businesses.

Wyndham hotel rooms could go away; sale to New York firm nixed by city council


The future of the Wyndham City Centre as a hotel could be in doubt after the Springfield City Council Tuesday rebuffed a zoning variance for a New York-based company to buy the downtown hotel.

The current owner of the Wyndham, Springfield’s tallest building at 30 stories, insisted its hotel rooms would go away as a result of the vote.

The possible disappearance of 370 downtown hotel rooms would put the city in a lurch as conventions appear to pick up after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan to sell the Wyndham to GoodHomes, which had plans to install a penthouse observation deck and food court, ended in a 5-5 vote Tuesday.

The zoning variance would have allowed for 320 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and 80 hotel rooms. The variance needed seven votes to pass because not enough members of the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission supported it earlier.

Scott Dahl, the director of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city has 26 conventions with peak room nights, over 300 rooms, from 2023 to 2025. In that period, downtown alone has 56,000 room nights booked.

“There will be fallout for sure (without the Wyndham),” Dahl said.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said the city would circle back with Al Rajabi, who bought the Wyndham in a foreclosure sale 2019, to see what could be done to retain its current value.

Rajabi insisted several times during Tuesday’s meeting that he had limited options in the face of struggling occupancy numbers and a bank note due Aug. 10.

The San Antonio, Texas-based Rajabi said while he has “liquid” to not let the Wyndham go to the bank, the problem is years of deferred maintenance on the property.

Rajabi’s plan is to have 200 government-subsidized apartments in the building with no hotel or retail space. He said in the meeting that no additional zoning was required.

“No one wants to lose hotel spaces,” Langfelder said afterward. “If he’s going (with just apartments), then we’ve really lost out.”

Voting against the sale were Ward 1 Ald. Chuck Redpath, Ward 4 Ald. John Fulgenzi, Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso, Ward 9 Ald. Jim Donelan and Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer.

Ward 5 Ald. Lakeisha Purchase said Tuesday that Friday was the first time she heard about the housing arrangement as Rajabi’s “last option.”

“This is what we did not want,” Purchase said.

Rajabi had planned to turn the hotel into a Marriott before the pandemic struck. He refused to answer questions.

“That’s your city leadership,” he said, boarding an elevator after the meeting.

David Mitchell, representing the proposed buyer Tuesday, said the project was pegged at $40 million with a substantial re-do of the inside of the hotel.

The hotel rooms would have been styled on Marriott “luxury hotel suites,” Mitchell said, but DiCenso reminded Mitchell that “we’re a corndog and doughnut kind of town.”

During the meeting, Rajabi said he was operating at 24% capacity and that wasn’t sustainable as a business model.

“I’m really sad this is where we’re at,” Rajabi said. “I don’t want to do government-assisted housing. That’s not in my business plan, but that’s the only option I have because the building has to be updated.”

Dahl said the capacity of the Wyndham “isn’t a reflection of what’s happening in Springfield from the travel and tourism side moving past a 100-year pandemic.

“It’s been a tough two years (for big box hotels), but we’re trending upwards,” Dahl added. “By 2025, I predict we’ll be running 1 million rooms in the city of Springfield (with the addition of the Scheels Sports Complex), so I don’t understand why you wouldn’t make that investment on the hotel side.”

Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin, who voted for the variance, also encouraged Rajabi “not to abandon the hotel opportunity (Dahl) demonstrated would come once we come out of COVID.”

After hearing from both Rajabi and Mitchell, Ward 3 Ald. Roy Williams Jr. said he was taking the position that “80 (hotel) rooms is better than none. If we don’t support it, we’re going to put ourselves in a worse situation about what we’re very so much concerned about: hotel rooms.”

The downtown hotel began as the Forum 30 in 1973. It was renamed the Hilton Tower in 1980 but became known simply as the Springfield Hilton. The change to Hilton, including new signage, took place in 1998. The hotel switched its brand to Wyndham in late 2015.

Governor Pritzker announces upcoming renovations to Illinois State Armory


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Governor JB Pritzker announced critical renovations taking place at the historic Illinois State Armory in downtown Springfield.

The project will consist of a complete renovation of the Armory to provide executive office space for employees from various state agencies.

Renovation work will take part in two phases of construction beginning in July 2022. The work should be done in July 2025.

The project is funded by a $122 million investment through Rebuild Illinois.

The building has served lots of different uses over the years but has been unoccupied for the past several years.

Governor Pritzker said the renovations and office space consolidation will improve state agency efficiency and save Illinois taxpayers money.

“Rebuild Illinois is turning the Illinois State Armory back into what it should be: one of Springfield’s crown jewels,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “With a bipartisan-backed $122 million investment, we’re making room for state employees to not only make a professional home of the state-owned building, but also to bring new life to the streets and shops of downtown Springfield. I know how important this project is to revitalize and reimagine our capital city, and I’m proud that the state can deliver for Springfield residents.”

“As Chair of the Military Economic Development Committee, I know the importance of honoring the legacy of our military and the brave service people who protect us,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “Thanks to the investments in communities through Rebuild Illinois, the renovations to the Armory will uplift this historical structure into the future to further its legacy so that it can continue to be a cornerstone in downtown Springfield.”

Improvements and renovations to the Armory will include the creation of efficient and flexible office space, the extension of natural light into the building and creating a central atrium within the original auditorium.

“I am pleased to see the significant investment in such a prominent feature of the Springfield cityscape,” said State Senator Doris Turner (D- Springfield). “I am looking forward to the completion of the project to bring one of Springfield’s great buildings back to its former glory.”

“The Armory is an important part of our state history,” said State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur). “I am very thankful for our community to have the opportunity to preserve this fine structure. Thanks to Rebuild Illinois, many of our constituents will have employment.”

“The Illinois State Armory is an iconic and loved building to the citizens of Springfield,” said Assistant Republican Leader Tim Butler (R-Springfield), “and reopening it is something I am asked about frequently. Repurposing this building into significant office space on our Capitol Campus is a tremendous use for this historic structure. I applaud everyone involved with Rebuild Illinois who have allowed us to make tremendous investments such as this in our Capital City.”

“As Ward 5 Alderwoman, I am thrilled that Governor Pritzker and the State Legislature have prioritized the rehabilitation of the Armory Building, an iconic structure on our Capitol complex,” said Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase. “The Armory Building holds important historic and cultural significance for Springfield and the entire state and it’s restoration will serve as another catalyst to downtown Springfield development. Thank you to Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for recognizing the importance of putting this magnificent building back in use for the people of Illinois.”

“A hallmark of The Next 10 initiative has been to strengthen the connection between State Government and local Springfield,” said John Stremsterfer, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln. “Working together on meaningful and forward-looking projects will keep Springfield among the great State Capitals in the United States. It is exciting to see so many transformational projects on the horizon.”

“The Armory is one of the largest state-owned buildings in Illinois, and the Capital Development Board is looking forward to working with the State Historic Preservation Office to complete these exciting renovations,” said CDB Executive Director Jim Underwood. “Once both phases of work are complete, the facility will once again be a key piece of downtown Springfield’s State Capitol complex.”

The building is currently unoccupied, as it has dealt with ongoing damage due to water coming in from the roof, basement, and exterior walls. It has extensive mold and mildew growth and a large quantity of asbestos containing materials.

CWLP warns Springfield neighbors to prepare for rolling blackouts


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- City Water Light and Power is preparing for controlled outages this summer, to avoid a total blackout in the city of Springfield. It comes as the Midwest is facing an energy shortage.

During the heat of summer, neighbors may be asked to turn off their air conditioning and major appliances.

“During the cooling season, your air conditioner is usually- for a typical property- is your highest usage. So you can turn your thermostat up to 78 degrees. You could delay any major appliance use, delay laundry, using the washing machine, the dishwasher,” Amber Sabin, Supervisor of Consumer Services with CWLP, told WAND News.

Cities across the midwest are being asked to cut back as coal, gas and nuclear power plants shut down faster than new energy sources can be brought online.

“The regional grid, which CWLP is connected to, could see some shortfalls during peak times,” Sabin explained.

Neighbors should prepare to take action during peak times, like weekday afternoons, if CWLP issues an Orange Level warning.

If not enough people act, CWLP could be forced to entirely shut off power for 15 minutes at a time.

“And then red is the notice that there’s still a shortfall, in order to avoid a total blackout we need to implement a protective power outages across the city,” Sabin added.

City leaders told CWLP at city council Tuesday night, they’re concerned about vulnerable residents and key infrastructure.

“I’ve heard from Ed Curtis, from Memorial, they’re very concerned. They cannot do surgeries with a one-source electricity. There has to be exemptions for the hospitals if possible,” Alderman Chuck Redpath, of Ward 1, said during the meeting.

“Some of these elders can’t even walk. So they can’t go down any stairs. So if its going to be an hour or so, knowing if you’ve got to go grocery shopping or doctors appointments- do that earlier in the daytime,” Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase, of Ward 5, added.

But CWLP said without these actions there could be permanent damage to the electrical grid.

CWLP has launched a website where advisory levels will be posted. There, neighbors can also learn when their power is expected to be restored, if their neighborhood is part of a rolling blackout.

Springfield Alderwoman Reads to Local Kids, Shares Inclusive Message

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A Springfield alderwoman has been sharing an inclusive message when reading to local kids.

Lakeisha Purchase, who represents Ward 5 in Springfield, has been reading to kids in February as part of Black History Month. Over the weekend of Feb. 12-13, Purchase read books to kids at two different places.

One book she read is called “Skin Like Mine.”

“(It gave a) message that we need to be comfortable in our skin and our skin does not matter when we’re together as well,” Purchase said. “So it talked about being comfortable and it talked about us being united and it talked about us not picking on each other.”

Purchase said it’s important to share a message of unity for kids and to teach them it’s OK to be different from each other. She said people should be proud of their differences.


Alderman push for quicker response times to liquor license applications

News Channel 20 by Sydney Dorner

Watch the interview here: https://newschannel20.com/news/local/alderman-push-for-quicker-response-times-to-liquor-license-applications

The city of Springfield may be changing the way it approves liquor licenses for businesses.

At city council, concerns were brought up about how quickly the city responds to owners seeking a liquor license. Now aldermen are taking a look at the process to see if it needs to be reformed.

Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase thinks there should be a set time in which the city has to reply.

“Whether its concerns, approval or denials, ” said Purchase. “But if there’s concerns you have 30, 60, or 90 days to get that information back in to do a rebuttal.”

Alderman Joe McMemenamin says there are many steps to get a liquor license that take time like a background check and making sure applicants are not in debt to the city. McMemenamin thinks overall its better to be strict.

“It’s a review process, “said McMenamin. “Off course if we make a mistake, we’ll get into trouble but if we review too carefully we can upset some people. But bottom line it’s a privilege not a right.”

Downtown business owner Anthony Dandrudge says it took months to hear back from his previous alderman but once a new member was appointed the ball got rolling.

“Don’t hide anything, “said Dandrudge, the owner of Truth Lounge. “Be extremely and fully transparent. Have all your paperwork and documentation ready.”

Alderman Chuck Redpath thinks background checks aren’t necessary for a liquor license and says all permits for the city need a quicker turnaround time.

“We need to find a better way to do it, ” said Redpath. ” So we can speed up the process to get peoples their permits faster on all fronts but liquor license is the one we are concentrating on right now.”

Alderwoman Purchase says Mayor Langfelder, who is also the city’s liquor commissioner is looking into crafting ordinance that sets a firm timeframe for when the city has to respond to businesses for all permits not just liquor licenses.

We reached out to the Mayor’s office about wait times for liquor licenses and have not received a response at this time.