Posted Online: Feb. 04, 2013, 11:07 pm

East Moline learns more about BHC student housing proposal

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By Anthony Watt,

EAST MOLINE -- Aldermen on Monday night learned more about a Black Hawk College proposal to build student housing within the city's borders.

BHC is planning a 114-bed three-story student apartment complex. Initially sited in Moline, west BHC Building 3, the proposed apartments now have been moved to the school's Parking Lot No. 4 after Moline officials declined to offer the tax rebate sought by the building's developer, Bluffstone LLC.

The new proposal would place the housing north of the main campus and separated from it by 34th Avenue. It's near a ravine that runs through the campus, with belts of woodland around it and several neighborhoods bordering the woods.

BHC President Thomas Baynum and Tim Baldwin of Bluffstone shared the plans with East Moline officials.Mr. Baynum said research is showing students are leaving the area to attend community colleges with housing.

"They're looking for that housing experience," he said. "They're looking for that campus experience."

Mr. Baldwin said the three-story building would contain two- or four-bedroom suites, with a single-story detached clubhouse containing study facilities, mail boxes and other amenities. It would also house full-time administrative and cleaning staffs.Only qualifying single students could live in the building, he said.

Mr. Baynum also said the Quad City's Vintage Rods Car Show could continue using the BHC parking lot.

The project still faces several steps. The BHC Board of Trustees must approve the new site and the land must be transferred from BHC to the foundation. Because state law prohibits a community college from owning or operating student housing, the foundation also must contract with Bluffstone.

Bluffstone has said it needs the rebate for the project to move forward, or the housing would be too costly for students, Mr. Baynum previously has said there's no alternative way to compensate for the tax rebate if it's not offered.

Mr. Baldwin said Bluffstone employees and city staff continue to work on a rebate package that will be presented to the council at a later date.

East Moline's planning and zoning commission also must approve the plan, and the tax rebate will need council approval. Other taxing bodies -- such as local school districts -- also must agree to the rebate.

In other business, East Moline Police Chief Victor Moreno announced Officer Jim Weakley has been promoted to sergeant. In 2009, Sgt. Weakley stopped on the Centennial Bridge to help Davenport Police Officer Clif Anderson who was being attacked by Steven Tyrone Mallory, 39, Davenport. Officer Anderson shot Mr. Mallory during the fight, killing him.

Sgt. Weakley now is serving in the patrol division.

The council also approved:

-- The 18th Avenue storm sewer replacement expected to cost $240,000.

-- An engineering services agreement with Veenstra & Kimm Inc. for a pipe repair in the water plant. The contract will cost $17,385 and the whole project is expected to cost $158,385.

-- Buying a new garbage truck for $200,000.

All the votes except for the garbage truck were unanimous. On the truck, Ald. Dave Kelley, 5th Ward, was the lone dissenting vote.

Acting as committee of the whole, the aldermen also approved hiring a firefighter tocompensate for changes in the duties of several fire personnel. Those changes will leave a gap in one of the shifts that could lead to overtime, according to a report to the aldermen.

East Moline Fire Chief Rob DeFrance said the hire would cost about $58,000 including salary and benefits.The vote was 5-2 with Alds. Gary Almblade, 2nd Ward, and Kelley opposed.

The proposal still must be debated before the council at a future meeting.