Champaign council OKs final plan for housing development near Walmart

Champaign council OKs final plan for housing development near Walmart

CHAMPAIGN — The city council approved the final plat for a new housing development near Walmart on Tuesday, but not before council member Alicia Beck asked some pointed questions about accessibility.

The Havens, a Housing Authority of Champaign County development that would mainly serve senior citizens and people with disabilities currently living at Skelton Place, is planned for the Market Place subdivision. The closest bus stop to the proposed entrance is a quarter-mile away at Walmart.

"We need to have a discussion about better access than a quarter-mile for our transportation," Beck said after asking city staff about the development. "I'm concerned about the access to MTD, and I'm hoping developers take that into consideration."

She said Skelton Place is centrally located in the community, "and now we're going to be on the edge of our community without good access to public transit that's easy to get to. I think a quarter-mile is just unacceptable."

Fellow council member Vanna Pianfetti assured Beck that she's had conversations with the developers and MTD, and the transit authority is "very open to conversations about moving bus stops."

She agreed that, for some, walking a quarter-mile to the closest bus stop "could be a hardship."

In other business:

— Council members voted Tuesday to expand diversity-incentive payments given to any project commissioned by the city. Until now, such incentives have only been used in Champaign's public works department, with a focus on infrastructure. Tuesday's vote expands the incentives to any female- and minority-owned businesses.

— The council approved an $85,000 contract for Farnsworth Group of Champaign to repair a brick sidewalk downtown and complete a sidewalk on Hagan Street near Bloomington Road where there is a gap. The company will also work on repairing two railroad crossings and a bridge, but those projects won't begin this year.

— Three new Champaign police officers were inducted Tuesday, as well as one firefighter. Also, Roger Cruz, who served as the president of the firefighter pension board, was promoted to deputy fire chief.

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