Energy efficiency, environment to be considered for neighborhood redevelopment

CHAMPAIGN — City planners would like to use energy efficient and environmentally friendly methods to redevelop the Bristol Place neighborhood east of Market Street on the city's north side.

Staff from the city's neighborhood services department and planning department outlined how maximizing energy efficiency and environmental impact is expected to be a part of the new look to the Bristol Place neighborhood to about 40 residents and other citizens on Thursday evening.

Lorrie Pearson, land development manager for the Champaign planning department, said city planners are considering the use of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards for neighborhood development promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council as part of the city's vision for the new Bristol Place, which will include a new fire station and other features yet to be determined.

"LEED is a way to provide an improved quality of life for those who live and visit the neighborhood," Pearson said.

She said the use of LEED guidelines could help qualify the city for $10 million to $30 million of grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As the city pursues its goal of making Bristol Place into a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly area, planners have turned to the town of Normal to provide inspiration, according to Pearson.

Mercy Davison, Normal town planner, said her community used LEED guidelines in the redevelopment of an area called Uptown Normal.

After a number of businesses moved from the area to shopping malls and many uptown trees died from Dutch elm disease, Davison said, the town reconfigured the area by building a children's museum and transportation building, repairing some older buildings, adding green space and making other improvements.

"People really rallied around this plan, and it is marching right along," Davison said. "Now the area is full of trees and beautiful."

Bristol resident Agatha Hendrickson said she supports the ideas presented on Thursday.

"Improving our neighborhood is a good idea," Hendrickson said. "I especially like the idea of having a fire station closer to my home."

Anthony Howell of the Bristol Park Steering Committee said constructing energy efficient buildings makes good economic sense.

"With the price of electricity and gas going up, this is another way to help keep the costs down," Howell said.

Champaign City Council member Will Kyles said the use of LEED guidelines is a good idea.

"In the future, as we incorporate these kinds of things, I believe it will increase the property values in the neighborhood," Kyles said.

Champaign neighborhood coordinator John Ruffin said additional meetings will be held to get the public's input in future months as the city continues making plans for the future of Bristol Place.

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