Elgin expected to bring back ice cream trucks
Elginites young and old can look forward to a slice of Americana this summer when the city's 45-year-old ban on ice cream trucks will be no more.
Members of the Elgin City Council cast a preliminary unanimous "yes" Wednesday to amending city code to allow ice cream trucks from April through October. A final vote is expected at the next meeting April 11.
"In this day and age, when it's really hard to get kids away from TV sets or videos or computer games, I think our overall feeling is we would like people to have more of a street life," Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger. "To be out on their porches, to be walking on their sidewalks."
The change applies only to trucks that sell ice cream and other frozen desserts, not food trucks, which in Elgin are allowed only at special events and on private property.
The move comes after Jim Cremeens, an ice cream truck owner and Elgin resident, approached city officials last summer asking for loosening of regulations.
The ordinance requires ice cream truck operators to be at least 18, pass a background check, and get a yearly permit after a safety inspection.
Over the years there have been rumors that the ban stemmed from a child being hurt in an accident involving an ice cream truck, but there is no evidence that happened in Elgin or nearby suburbs.
A few council members said that, even though they welcome ice cream trucks, they want children to be safe. "You're absolutely right," Community Development Director Marc Mylott said. "As the father of three children, I didn't prepare this lightly."
The rules would require $1 million liability insurance for ice cream truck operators. Councilman Terry Gavin proposed raising that to $2 million; Mylott said he'd discuss that with the legal department before the council's final vote.
Councilman Rich Dunne asked if homeowners' associations would be able to opt out. Mylott said that provision could be added.
Under the changes, ice cream trucks would not be allowed adjacent to parks with city-authorized concessions, such as the Elgin Sports Complex, or in city-owned parking lots. They would be allowed on parks that have roadways, like Lords Park and Wing Park.
Ice cream trucks could not sell within 500 of elementary and secondary schools one hour before, during or after school. Elgin Area School District U-46 and Central School District 301 support the ordinance so long as this restriction was included, city officials said.