Urbana council to consider scaled-back Boneyard project

Urbana council to consider scaled-back Boneyard project

URBANA — City council members will take another look Monday night at scaled-back plans for Urbana's Boneyard Creek beautification project.

The city council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St., U.

After construction bids for the project came in much higher than anticipated, city staff have recommended $2.37 million in cost reductions to reduce its budget from $10.3 million to $7.9 million. The project's completion date also has been pushed back, from Nov. 1, 2013, to June 15, 2014.

The improvement project is to be paid for with revenue from two Urbana tax increment finance districts. Because of the cost of the project, city officials said, funds will not be available for incentives, grants or other capital improvements within the TIF districts.

The Boneyard improvement project, as proposed, runs for about three blocks from Griggs Street to Broadway Avenue on the north side of downtown Urbana. It includes landscaping, pedestrian lighting, benches, a trail along the creek and a scenic overlook at Griggs Street. It also calls for "streetscaping" along Race Street and Broadway Avenue.

Council members will be asked Monday to review the list of items to be eliminated or reduced to meet the project budget.

Also Monday, the council will consider an intergovernmental agreement with the Urbana Park District to undertake an inventory of the approximately 14,000 trees on city property and 4,000 on park district property. Davey Resource Group will undertake the inventory for $73,925, of which $57,662 will be provided by the city.

The tree inventory is necessary to help local governments maintain their infrastructure, according to a memo by City Arborist Mike Brunk.

"The best approach to maintaining a community forest is to have an organized, proactive management program including a tree inventory, tree management plan and software," Brunk wrote. "With these tools the city of Urbana can develop a tree management program that allows staff to prioritize, schedule and budget effectively, and provide residents with accurate information about their urban forest to participate in its care."

Urbana, according to Brunk, has maintained a tree inventory as far back as 1932. The first one, he said, was handwritten in ledger books and included basic information about tree type, size, condition and needed work.