FISHER — Mayor Mike Bayler is not sure when the village board will vote whether to amend its liquor ordinance to allow for a pour-only license.
Fisher businessman Brandon Chandler requested that change so he could install video-gaming machines in a walled-off portion of a building he owns on the main business district block that used to be part of Ingold’s Grocery. On the other side, the laundromat, he would install two commercial washers and dryers and two regular washers and dryers. He is not sure what the hours would be. But an attendant would always be on site.
Last week brought residents to the board meeting, both in favor of the project and against. Resident Jeanne Sloat said she was in favor of it since she is a landlord and it would give her tenants a place to do laundry in town. No laundromat exists in Fisher now. Joe Briggs said he also supported the project.
Resident Robin Kirk said she likes the idea of a laundromat but not the idea of coupling it with gambling. Karen Phelps is very opposed to the gambling. She said the availability of the machines makes it hard for what she termed “disadvantaged” apartment dwellers. She said laundry would be a needed service for them but the gaming machines would be a drawback.
Phelps said with the gaming law the state passed that the state is saturated with more gaming slots per resident than Las Vegas is — one per 421 residents. She said Fisher’s ratio already is one slot per 300 residents.
Chandler estimated the gaming machines could bring in $5,000 in revenue to the village annually but that he can’t make the plan work financially without them. He foresees a seven-year payback on the $60,000 for the machines alone, and without the gambling income he would make no profit in that time. He said updating the utilities will cost $15,000.
Chandler plans to work with Accel Entertainment to bring in the machines. He told the board he thought he would need to have the machines open 72 hours per week. Bayler told him to check that information to see if it’s a state rule or an Accel one and report to the board next month.
Board member Angie Seidelman asked village attorney Marc Miller if the license could be written in a way that mandates a percentage of Chandler’s income coming from the gaming machines and a percentage from the laundry facilities.
A restaurant liquor license in town says at least half of the sales must come from food sales as compared to alcohol sales. Miller said the board can make any conditions it wants.
Phelps asked the board to research what other small towns are doing with the gaming machine question.
“Once we head down this road we can’t back track,” she said.
The board also:
• Approved paying Duce Construction $10,600 to install of six collapsible bollards across the roadway in the 100 block of East Park Street to close it to vehicles. These bollards could be lowered at the hinge to allow for emergency vehicle access or village maintenance. The block borders the north end of the village park.
• Agreed to sell a 1997 Ford F250 pickup for $600. Earlier the board had specified a minimum bid of $1,000, and there were no takers. Hunter Ezell of Illiana Construction will buy the truck.
• Heard from Village Administrator Jeremy Reale, who said Glad’s Tree Removal has expressed interest in the village’s 1998 Vermeer chipper. In the last few years, it has been primarily used by Brown Township rather than village personnel. The board declared it surplus equipment, and Reale will further research the value of the machine the village bought for $12,000 in 2006 but that needs a new motor.
• Authorized paying $13,000 to Glad’s for tree removal this summer.
• Learned from Reale that he is working to figure out the cost for new, high-quality durable lighting fixtures along the path around Heritage pond.
• Heard from Bayler, who thanked all those who helped make the recent Lucky Foot Festival a success. He cited specifically Eric Stalter and Joe Weir, and Gale Helpingstine, who ran the car show in memory of his wife, Ranae, that brought 85 cars to town.