URBANA — City council members on Monday agreed to scale back the proposed upgrades to the Boneyard Creek area in downtown Urbana, but not before holding on to a couple features they couldn't bear to lose.
City officials began revising the project when the lowest bid came in at $10.3 million — well over their $7.5 million estimate. Last week, they recommended 30 specific cuts totaling about $2.4 million.
On Monday, the city council approved 28 cost reduction measures after administrators removed two items from the cut list based on council members' recommendations from their initial discussion two weeks ago. Accent lighting at a cost of just more than $200,000 and decorative plantings worth about $2,100 will remain part of the Boneyard Creek improvements.
The Boneyard project runs for about three blocks from Griggs Street to Broadway Avenue on the north side of downtown Urbana.
The last-minute changes forced the project's completion date to be pushed back from Nov. 1, 2013, to June 15, 2014.
Some of the 28 cuts are aesthetic and others are structural, but senior civil engineer Brad Bennett said officials believe they have "preserved the core of the project." The changes are relatively minor, he said, and it will be hard to see the effect.
The single biggest change is ditching the plan to use stainless steel throughout the project, like in fencing and hand rails, and instead using galvanized steel. That change alone will save nearly $1 million.
"When it's done, I think the residents are going to be very impressed," said Public Works Director Bill Gray.
Gray said he expects the upgrades will turn the creek from an inaccessible drainage ditch to an amenity in the downtown area.
"It'll be a gathering place," Gray said. "People will be close to the creek and appreciate the water."