Master plan will address city space needs

Local News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – A big project is targeting efficiency and growth for the city, and it could mean big changes on the way.

The city of Urbana hired a Chicago firm, CannonDesign, to work with city leaders on a master plan to reshape and improve the city.

Over the next several years, they will look at how public space is used now, how it could be used better, and what it will take to make it happen.

Revamping the city is high on Mayor Diane Marlin’s wishlist.

Hiring a Chicago firm to work on a master plan for it is a big checkmark.

“This particular effort will focus on the properties owned by the city of Urbana, but they are in the context of the city as a whole,” said Marlin.

She said when the city is budgeting for these spaces, it’s a lot of guessing.

The plan will give concrete answers on what needs improving and where the money should go to make it happen.

“We’re going to be looking at how people are working together,” said Marlin.

One example is the city building.

Several city departments, plus police and fire share this building.

Some are working out of the basement.

The police department’s offices are on different floors.

“Where they’re working…whether we can be more efficient and effective in how we use our space,” said Marlin.

At the public works building, vehicles are stored outside, which can rack up maintenance costs.

But aside from the public portions, she hopes overall growth and development…including private…will be a side-by-side effort.

People who live in Urbana and people who visit Urbana say unused private space should also be addressed.
“There are a lot of abandoned buildings and places that are kind of sad to look at and walk by that kind of makes the town feel more run down,” said Alyssa Hayes. “It makes people want to leave Urbana.”

They hope the city can come up with development that brings more people into town, and makes financial sense.

“We all have to live here and support the community by coming out and spending money to put back into it, so hopefully it’ll balance out,” said Mike Flahaut

Overall, the goal is that these changes to public spaces will improve how efficiently these services…like public safety and public works…can operate and serve Urbana residents.

This public property master plan will take place in three phases.

Phase one will last about a year, and will include a full assessment of city properties.

Phase two will look at how these spaces are used, and how they could be used better.

Phase three will take phases one and two into account to finalize the master plan to address the needed changes.

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