Danville to consider plan to buy 3 properties

DANVILLE — The city is planning to buy three properties on Hazel Street west of Danville High School to make way for a project that will improve parking, drainage, traffic flow and landscaping west of the school.

The city council's public services committee will consider Tuesday night a proposal to buy the three properties at 805, 807 and 811 N. Hazel St. for $30,000, according to Corporation Counsel David Wesner. He said all three properties are owned by Charlie Long and are necessary for the improvements at the high school.

The committee meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville. The committee also will consider a lease agreement with the owner of the business, Classy Critters, at 3628 N. Vermilion St. The city just bought the property for $150,000 from Glen Martin of Danville, so the North Vermilion Street entrance to the Lowe's Home Improvement store can be moved south to better accommodate the increase in traffic from the planned development that includes a Meijer store.

Wesner said the city hoped Classy Critters would have another location to move to by the time the city purchased the property, but the business' new location won't be ready until later this summer. Wesner said the city was willing to work with the owner until the other building is ready, so the business wouldn't have to close for a couple months waiting for its new location. He said the city realizes that closing temporarily could be a detriment to the business. In the meantime, the city has arranged a short-term lease with the business through Aug. 31 for the North Vermilion Street location.

The high school project stems from a grant that the city received last year when the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city a $750,000 grant for design and construction of improvements west of Danville High School, 202 E. Fairchild St. The estimated $1.2 million project will gather and reuse rainfall from the high school's parking lots between Hazel and Jackson streets and also improve traffic flow, safety and aesthetics within the parking area.

The project area is bordered by Clay Street to the south, Hazel Street to the west, Jackson Street to the east and Viking Way to the north. Within that area closer to Jackson will be an expanded, paved, landscaped parking lot and closer to Hazel Street a large grassy area that will be used for overflow parking and as a practice field for marching band or other activities when it's not being used for event parking.

City and Danville school district officials have been working together on plans for improving parking, traffic flow, pedestrian access and safety, and aesthetics around Danville High. A traffic study funded through the Danville Area Transportation Study, a federally funded organization, came up with three options for separating school buses, vehicles and pedestrians around the campus. Recommendations from that study will be incorporated into the final design of this project.

The project also will entail environmentally friendly pavement and landscaping that will allow water to pass through them into a filter below that cleans the water before releasing it to the storm sewer system or storing the water to feed the grassy area. The goals of the project are improving water quality and reducing erosion by slowing the rate at which water is released during rain events. The grant is a portion of $5 million in Green Infrastructure Grants awarded by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to reduce the amount of pollution running into Illinois waterways from storm water sources.

The $750,000 grant will pay for various portions of the design and construction phases of the $1.2 million project and city funding, and in-kind work will make up the rest. The city's portion will come from funds generated by the city's Midtown Tax Increment Financing district created in 2005.

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