Danville council OKs talks to acquire land for bike path

DANVILLE — Aldermen gave city officials the authority Tuesday night to begin negotiating with property owners to buy more than 40 pieces of property in preparation for the Lincoln Park bike path.

City Engineer David Schnelle said negotiations should begin next month and once agreements have been finalized with all property owners, officials will come back to the council for final approval. Schnelle said each parcel has been appraised, and the total purchase price for all the properties will depend on negotiations.

Also Tuesday night, the council approved the 2011 property-tax levy and awarded a bid for carpeting a portion of city hall after the council had rejected the first round of bids.

Aldermen approved a $6,492,974 levy that is a 3.8 percent decrease over last year. Even with an anticipated 4 per- cent decrease in the city's equalized assessed valuation, the tax rate should stay at $1.97 per $100 of assessed value.

The Lincoln Park bike path will be a 10-foot-wide multipurpose path, similar to the one on East Winter Avenue, open to bicyclists, walkers and joggers. The 1.46-mile path will connect the Danville Family YMCA, Garfield Elementary School, Lincoln Park and Provena United Samaritans Medical Center. It will begin on Jackson Street near the YMCA, head west along English Street, pass by Garfield School and Lincoln Park, then head south on Logan Avenue to Williams Street near the Center for Children's Services.

Last year, the city was awarded a $1.3 million federal grant that requires a $200,000 local match for construction of the bike path. In 2006, it was awarded a federal grant of $201,000, with a $50,250 city match, that covered the development costs associated with the path.

Schnelle said the local dollars will be used to pay for the property acquisitions, which should be wrapped up in the first part of next year, and construction could begin as soon as summer of next year.

Long-term plans are for this 1.46-mile path to connect to Kickapoo State Park west of Danville and eventually connect to Urbana once a rails-to-trails project is completed, he said.

On the project to carpet portions of the city's municipal building, aldermen decided to do only portions of the job and install carpeting on the first and second floors but not on the lower level where the city council meets. That reduced the overall price significantly from about $59,000 to $39,934.

Two weeks ago, the city council rejected the bids for the job partly because there were no local bidders and partly because some constituents had complained to aldermen about spending that much money on carpeting. Aldermen also approved rebidding the project and splitting it into three sections by floor, so that the council could do only part of the project if it wanted.

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