Village Board highlights – Tru Hotel coming, Officer of the Year awarded, special use requests

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By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (January 21, 2022) – The January 17 Lansing Village Board of Trustees meeting was Lansing’s first in the new year, covering a diverse range of topics from police officer recognitions, to new businesses, to disposing of surplus property — and others.

Below are some highlights from the meeting:

Regular Meeting

Officer of the Year — Travelle Smith, in his first full year as a police officer with the Lansing PD, was presented with the department’s Officer of the Year Award in recognition of his year of dedicated service, which included saving the life of an infant who was choking.

Lansing Police Chief Al Phillips surprised Smith with the award Tuesday night.

“Travelle got a Life Saving Award last month for saving an infant’s life. We couldn’t be more proud of a guy like doing a job like that,” Phillips said. “He’s one of the leaders in the department when it comes to citations, writing tickets, making arrests, being out there — being a good role model for our community.”

Award recipients are chosen by LPD’s Lieutenants, Phillips said. Smith was hired through the LPD’s lateral hiring program, which was enacted in Lansing in 2021.

“I always wanted to be on this list, but I didn’t think it would be this early in my career, so I’m happy to have this opportunity presented to me,” Smith said.

Travelle Smith was presented with the Officer of the Year award after just his first full year with the Lansing Police Department. His name will be placed on the plaque under last year’s winner: Sharon Novak. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Tru Hotel — A Tru Hotel is coming to Lansing, though not as soon as originally thought. The delay was the occasion for the Village of Lansing to approve an amendment to the original purchase and sale agreement for the property Tuesday night.

Tru Hotel is specialty hotel brand by Hilton, with modern design features and amenities geared toward younger budget-conscious travelers. The Lansing location will be constructed near the intersection of 172nd Street and Torrence Avenue, immediately west of Outriggers and north of the vacant five-story building.

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Tru Hotel by Hilton is bringing a location to Lansing near the intersection of 172nd Street and Torrence, immediately west of Outriggers, as shown in the outlined area above (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
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Village officials and development and architect representatives discussed Tru Hotel opening in Lansing at a December 6 Board Meeting. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Other

  • The Board voted to approve the Lansing Municipal Airport Transportation Improvement Program for financial years 2024–2028, which will be submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division.

Committee of the Whole Meeting

Items appearing in the Committee of the Whole are new items brought to the Board for discussion. Prior to the meeting, Board members receive a Board packet that contains documents and background information relevant to the items on this agenda. They review the Board packet to be able to discuss the agenda items.

Planning and Zoning appointee — Mayor Patty Eidam introduced Ernst Lamothe Jr. to the Board of Trustees as her appointee to Lansing’s Planning and Zoning Board. Lamothe currently serves on the Lansing Chamber of Commerce Board.

The Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals hears requests from petitioners regarding special use requests, variances, and other issues regarding construction, remodeling, and other purposes.

The Village Board will vote on Lamothe’s appointment at its next meeting.

Ernst Lamothe Jr. introduces himself on on January 17, 2022. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Gamma VR special use request — Gamma VR, which opened at its current location at 2416 176th Street in 2018, is hoping to add another location at 17336 Torrence Avenue, in the strip mall which also houses Signarama and JJ’s Fish & Chicken.

Gamma VR rents its virtual reality hardware and game library to patrons for half hour or hour sessions. Patrons don a headset to be transported to other digital worlds and play a variety of games.

“Unfortunately the location we’re currently at, it’s very hard to see us,” said Nabbil Khan, owner of Gamma VR. “The complaint we’re usually getting is, ‘We can’t find you guys.'”

Gamma VR requires a special use because it is classified as an “indoor amusement” business. Trustees will vote to approve or deny the request in an upcoming meeting.

Davetta Hawkins special use — Davetta Hawkins is requesting a special use for an event venue, which she hopes to open at 2374 172nd Street, in the same strip mall as Outriggers and GiGi Willikers.

“I would like to use this suite as a venue and also host decor classes,” Hawkins told the Board, adding that she would also like to host bridal and baby showers, as well as free community events for Halloween, Easter, and other occasions.

Trustees will vote to approve or deny a special use request at an upcoming meeting.

Other

  • The Village Board heard an audit report from RMS US LLP, which revealed no major issues with the Village’s finances in 2021. The report noted that the the General Fund’s balance increased by approximately $3.3 million, as revenue from 2020 increased while expenditures decreased. The Village spent about $11 million less than its budgeted amount overall in 2021, with a decrease in “public safety” comprising the majority of the gap at $5.9 million below the budgeted amount.
  • Representatives from the Lansing Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Lansing Municipal Airport, presented the Board with various pieces of surplus property that no longer serve a use in the Village. Most of these items were vehicles.
  • Trustees discussed an access easement agreement for the upcoming Tru Hotel, for three access roadways to the location.

Village Board meetings typically occur on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for February 7 at the Village Courtroom, located within the Lansing Police Department at 2710 170th Street.

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