Local history: Who remembers when University Ave. in Urbana was just two lanes? Also, looking ahead to 2012
In 1911, the Salvation Army hall was taxed to its capacity last night for the annual Christmas tree and entertainment for the poor children of the Twin Cities. A sack of candy and an orange, together with three toys apiece, were given to each child, the candy and toys having been donated by merchants.
In 1961, perhaps the best news for local motorists in the 1962 state highway program is the promised widening of University Avenue from Race to Romine streets in Urbana. The narrow, two-lane stretch with the troublesome double railroad crossing at Lincoln Avenue has been dubbed Urbana’s “accident alley.” Nearly 22 percent of all accidents in Urbana occur there.
Looking ahead to 2012
From today's N-G column ...
— Construction will start on Champaign County’s first wind farm, 30 turbines to be built in the northeastern part of the county near Royal. The so-called California Ridge Farm (even though there is no such place in Champaign County named California Ridge) is part of a larger project that includes 100 turbines in Vermilion County. Another wind farm developer is said to be looking at a second Champaign County site.
— The University of Illinois might finally begin planning and fundraising for the long-awaited renovation of the Assembly Hall. A contract was awarded this month to develop schematic drawings for the remodel. No matter what happens, though, it’s certain nothing will be done in time for the 50th anniversary of the formal dedication of the building: May 3, 2013.
— The Champaign school district’s Carrie Busey School will open this fall in a new location. After 55 years on Kirby Avenue in Champaign, the school building will move to an all-new site in a new town. The new $18 million Carrie Busey School is under construction in Savoy; the original Carrie Busey, which opened in 1958, cost less than $1 million.
— It looks like this will be another big year for renovations to the 90-year-old Virginia Theatre. Among millions of dollars in capital projects within the Champaign Park District budget this year is at least $1.5 million for improvements to the Virginia. Following the conclusion of Ebertfest, the theater will close for an auditorium remodel that could continue for a year. The park district also faces a big decision in January about the future of the aging and costly Spalding Pool.
— Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this year, and I have it on good authority that, after a one-year absence, the Champaign-Urbana Baseball Stalwarts — CUBS —will be back in the Freedom Celebration parade. It likely will be the highlight of what is beginning to look like a dreadful season for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are not just going through a rebuilding, they are baseball’s equivalent of a Superfund project.
— The Danville Dans’ 25th season opens earlier this year (May 29) and will include 30 home games.
— Illinois’ financial situation will worsen again (revenue will drop, and expenses, especially pension and health care costs, will soar) which could mean another legislative run at gambling expansion. If a gambling expansion bill is considered in the General Assembly, it undoubtedly will contain casinos for (at least) Chicago and Danville. The former would be the big revenue generator; the latter has been sold as a way of getting back at Indiana for its raids on Illinois businesses.
— There may be a property tax increase question or two on Champaign County’s election ballot this fall. One could be to finance construction of an addition to the satellite county jail on Urbana’s east side (and to close the downtown jail). Another possibility is a vote on a property tax increase to operate the financially troubled county nursing home.