Apartments, YMCA seek service from dueling transit districts
CHAMPAIGN — A pair of large southwest Champaign facilities are hoping that two dueling transit districts can set aside their differences to provide them with bus service.
Representatives of the 316-unit Windsor West Apartments complex and the new Champaign County YMCA appeared before the Champaign Southwest Mass Transit District Board on Tuesday night to ask for full bus service. Because the two properties are south of Windsor Road, they are within the boundaries of the Champaign Southwest district, which does not provide any service, but are just outside the territory of the larger C-U MTD.
Bob Pratten, the president and CEO of the firm that owns the apartment complex, says he pays the MTD $8,000 a year for limited, contracted service but that it is inadequate.
"What we're paying for now, it's OK, but it gives our residents pretty limited service," said Pratten.
And Mark Johnson, the executive director of the YMCA, says he cannot get any bus service for his members.
"The number-one thing we get hammered about is bus service, far and away," Johnson said.
The Champaign Southwest MTD board members indicated Tuesday that they were open to the idea of entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the larger MTD, but would need more details from the YMCA and the apartment complex about the level of bus service they would need.
Pratten, whose complex now gets service for two hours in the mornings and two hours in the afternoons, said he wanted full-time service, seven days a week.
"We're here to seek guidance as to what can be done," he said.
He said he couldn't afford to wait too long because he soon will begin writing leases for the fall semester and wants to know whether he will need to contract for services again.
"And the YMCA's needs are greater than ours," he said.
Jack Dempsey, a recent appointee to the Champaign Southwest board, said a renewed discussion with the larger MTD gives the smaller district a chance to negotiate items it wants, including the possibility of reduced service in some southwest Champaign neighborhoods.
"This could be an opportunity to sit down with the MTD and make us all happy," said Dempsey, the executive director of facilities and services at the University of Illinois.
It was Dempsey's first board meeting and almost a more memorable one, as some Champaign Southwest board members were prepared to challenge his appointment as a replacement for five-year veteran board member Ann Parkhill Suchoff.
But Champaign County Board Chairman C. Pius Weibel attended the meeting and confirmed that he had nominated Dempsey to replace Suchoff, and that the county board approved the appointment.
The Champaign Southwest board approved a resolution commending Suchoff, one of its original board members, for her service on the board.
Board members also deferred action on a plan to abate some level of property taxes for the 75 percent of taxpayers in the district who are also in the larger MTD. Those property owners pay both the larger MTD's 27.25-cents-per-$100-of-assessed-valuation property-tax rate and the Champaign Southwest's 1.84-cent rate.