ELECTION 2019 QUESTIONNAIRES | Champaign City Council: Pattsi Petrie

ELECTION 2019 QUESTIONNAIRES | Champaign City Council: Pattsi Petrie

1. What prompted you to run for a seat on the city council?

"An available opportunity to be part of a team working for the city in which I have lived for 48 years."

2. What would make you a better candidate than your opponents?

"I come to this role with several strengths to continue Champaign to be the 'look to' community for best practices.

"I have a record of project completion that is still benefiting the community. Here are several examples: established the Champaign County Health Care Consumers in 1978. Then the Preservation and Conservation Association in 1981. And in 2008, I started working on stormwater management. The flooding mitigation evolved into the John Street Watershed project shepherded by six to eight of us to completion, working with public works, council member Marci Dodds and the city council.

"The extensions of this model helped residents along East and West Washington and Glenn Park. Using the same model, work will begin in the University Avenue area west of Dr. Howard Elementary, followed by the projects in Garden Hills, which includes sidewalks and street lights, and finally Bristol Park.

"CCHCC, PACA and JSW have lasted for years and helped hundreds of citizens. Besides this community work, I served on the county board for eight years and was chair for two years. Those eight years provided a thorough understanding of organizational decision making and the budget as the key policy document.

"I was just awarded by the Champaign County Farm Bureau the Urban Ag Leader of the Year Award. This is for the work I have done building bridges between the cities and rural areas related to farmland use, agriculture as economic development, and best use of the valuable farmland. Because we are so used to being surrounded by farmland, it is easy to lose focus that farming is economic development.

"My years teaching urban planning, working with students and culminating each semester with implementable community projects underline the potential of having the university here. Intersecting the students, who are brilliant problem solvers, and the city issues creates a win-win situation.

"Urban planners are trained to ask three questions — what do we want, what do we have and how do we accomplish the goal? The key attributes to engaging the citizens and stakeholders are listening, processing and teamwork.

"As a county board member, I asked these two questions before a vote: First, is the vote in the best interest of the county? Second, if tax dollars are involved, is it the best use of the tax dollars?

"I will continue using these questions."

3. What do you consider the greatest challenge facing the city in the next four years?

"As I have been talking with residents, gun violence and flooding/stormwater management are consistently mentioned as greatest challenges. I agree that these are challenges. For me, the macro challenge is what is/are the 'best practices' to maintain a community sustainable not just today, but also for the next 25-50 years?

"Specifically, gun violence and flooding are complex. For the city to work on them, a balance of economics, environment and equity/equality is important.

"Economics/economic development: the engine of the community. This gives the city monies to focus on violence, mental health, workforce development, job development, economically integrated housing and neighborhood infrastructure, to name a few.

"Environment: covers all infrastructure issues, mitigation of flooding and stormwater management.

"Equity and equality: diversity, policing, hiring practices, economically integrated housing, neighborhood stability and economic and educational disparities."

4. How would you evaluate the CU Fresh Start anti-gun-violence initiative after two years?

"Fresh Start is modeled after a like-kind success program in Peoria. That city still has a state-funded mental-health facility. This is a major contributor to the Peoria program's success. Unfortunately, the other facilities within Illinois have been closed by the state.

"No mental-health facility here, funding constraints, limited willing participants and shifting paradigms have created distractions for the program to grow roots. Those working with Fresh Start are in the process of re-evaluating the design of the program.

"So far, the benefiting population has been small compared to the need."

5. How worrisome an issue is gun violence in Champaign-Urbana, and what more, if anything, can be done to curtail it?

"Everyone with whom I have conversed mentions concern about gun violence in Champaign County. The past and present approaches — Access Initiative, Community Coalition and Fresh Start — have not 'turned the ship around.'

"First Followers has recently been recognized during the Martin Luther King celebrations because this small, dedicated group has been successful with those returning to the community after serving a judicial punishment."Just last evening, a resident mentioned that nothing has worked so far, that it is time to take a step back, reassess what has been tried, evaluate a paradigm shift by engaging community input and more effectively bringing the ministers to the table. Collaboration must include the clergy, the five area police departments, the public health district, the mental-health board, and the UI, among others.

"During conversations, there is a sense of frustration expressed that so much money, time, energy and commitment has been expended, yet the gun-violence curve continues upward."

6. Assuming recreational cannabis is legalized, what additional resources, if any, would you be in favor of devoting to police and DUI enforcement/education?

"Recreational cannabis will be legalized in this state. So right now, the city might consider approving a task force/study group to gather useful information from the states where this has already happened, then use these learning experiences to determine what might work best in our community.

"Next, set up a pilot program as a means of fine-tuning what is designed. And follow up by presenting what is determined to be needed to the city council, five police departments, the public health districts and the county mental-health board to engage support and funding opportunities.

"As an example, recently, the governor of Colorado has mentioned that the income generated due to legalization is on a downward curve. This will continue, according to the governor, as more and more states legalize recreational cannabis. This is important to know as local costs are projected, because the sale thereof may not cover costs. Then whatever 'best practice' is approved will need to be enveloped into budget decision making."

7. What are your thoughts on the growing number of high-rises near campus, and their impact on the look and feel of Campustown?

"As I am talking with residents during this campaign, I am discovering many volunteer comments about what is occurring between First and Wright and Green and University. Here are several of the shared comments:

"— No longer looks like a college neighborhood campus area. Refer to question No. 9.

"— Tall buildings cause lack of sun and potential wind tunnels.

"— Zero setbacks cause mobility issues exacerbated during bad weather months, as does lack of parking.

"— I no longer go to Campustown.

"I begin this response with these comments because I was a member of the Champaign Center City Commission during Mayor Joan Severn's tenure. The commission members, as one would expect, were community leaders at all levels. The project on which Neil Strack, Professor Bruce Hutchins, several architecture students and I worked was developing a design plan for downtown Champaign and then extending the development north and southeast along the Boneyard. The resulting product was an amazing redevelopment concept, enhanced by having architecture students involved. Basically, the plan demonstrated how much economic development could occur while preserving the low-profile look of Campustown; beautifying and integrating the Boneyard as an amenity; and creating connectivity to the north end and Market Place, which was being developed, and east to Urbana.

"What is happening in the area is driven by outside developers who build and move on. Presently, there is overbuilding. All that is necessary to cover construction costs is 60 percent occupancy. Since we are an economically isolated community/county, there is limited economic elasticity. When anything is overbuilt, there will be entities going out of business. Overall, there is no economic gain for the community. Stable economic development is the engine of growth for any community.

"There are creative ways to accommodate the university and students throughout the campus area. The students in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and civil and environmental engineering are exploding with ideas. Ask them what they want and need in their neighborhood."

8. Do you worry about the loss of historic structures as this development expands?

"Yes, I have concerns about the city losing concrete visual historic characteristics. This started early in 1980, when I was chair of the Historic Preservation Committee at the Champaign County History Museum, then housed in one of the wonderful houses on University Avenue. During this time period, I was working on my master's in urban planning with a major in historic preservation. Unfortunately, during those years, the city was losing many of its too-few historic structures. Realizing that the museum board at that time was not focusing on these losses, five of us went in another direction to establish the Preservation and Conservation Association of Champaign County. The goals were to prevent the loss of any more historic buildings and, if that could not be accomplished, to salvage as much of the building materials as possible, hence the PACA warehouse. In addition, a last goal was educating the community about the importance of our history and legislation that might affect it. In the early years, we sponsored very successful historic walking tours and a fabulous Burgoo Festival. This was held in the then-empty property on Prospect Avenue between University and Park avenues. There has never been another Burgoo Festival held locally. The festival raised money for the history museum.

"The purpose of this backstory is to explain my 'yes' response to the question. As a graduate student, I was involved in developing an inventory of historical buildings. As a community, we have very few, and fewer now. As I always state, our area is not Cape May, N.J., or Green Bay, Wis. — two communities with a generous abundance of historic buildings that are protected. Or Fort Collins, Colo., where the downtown is historically intact.

"Another reason for my 'yes' response is the research done by Professor Bruce Hannon about embodied energy in building materials — the cost to create them, the cost to raze a building and take the materials to a dump, the cost of road repair, and the cost of not reusing materials. The research demonstrated that when these aggregated costs were added to new construction costs, repurposing an existing building saved money. His research was published in the journal Science. It was the beginning of a paradigm shift as to how to cost out a project and a movement to repurpose buildings.

"Yes, it is possible to encourage new development and at the same time preserve historic character. Both can co-exist to benefit a community economically. In addition, this is economic development. Many have commented and posted online that the demolition of the Burnham Mansion is an economic loss, an educational loss and a potential to enhance the area around West Side Park."

9. Given the recent Clark Park issue, how would you protect central Champaign neighborhoods that want to retain their character?

"Clark Park is a terrific planning case study, in that too many variables are happening at the same time — a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance for SF1, 50-60 feet frontage; a conservation district, which appears as a segment of the historic preservation ordinance; and a planned unit development. First, the zoning amendment ought to follow the procedure of hearings held by the planning commission and then being voted up or down by the city council. This will provide an approved foundation for neighborhoods to figure out best practices to retain individual neighborhood character.

"This can be accomplished by an overlay zone. A conservation district is an overlay zone. This may or may not be the best practice across all neighborhoods. An alternative approach is a different overlay zone, specifically written for each neighborhood. Fortunately, there are many interesting and distinctive neighborhoods in Champaign. One size of zoning or an overlay zone does not fit all. Since this is the case, residents then will have the opportunity to define what characteristics make the neighborhood distinctive and work with city planners to develop a win-win overlay-zoning plan. This could be an independent study project for a university student in urban and regional planning to work with residents and city planners to develop a model overlay zone that could be adjusted neighborhood by neighborhood."

10. Similarly, are you worried that developments on the fringe of town — i.e., Carle at the Fields — will simply draw retail, etc., away from downtown and central Champaign?

Urban-planning research confirms that sprawl can be an economic burden on the city budget. Since this a known, any decision process ought to include costs for neighborhood infrastructure, roads, physical infrastructure, transportation needs, etc. These could be costs to the community. Another consideration is will sprawl/new development cause economic decline in other areas of the community, how to minimize this occurring, or will develop add stable economics?

11. Has the city done enough to award contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses? And, if not, what specifically would you propose?

"Champaign has made concrete efforts to include minority- and female-owned businesses in city contracts through two mechanisms. First, the information is posted on the city website indicating this goal. Second, and more significant, is the effort to break down large projects into smaller segments enabling smaller companies to submit bids.

"Presently in this region, minority- and female-owned businesses are not numerous and/or large enough to handle million-dollar projects. Without breaking down the larger projects, neither of these groups have the capacity to handle them. In the short term, the smaller businesses can submit a collaborative bid. In the long term, the city could turn economic-development efforts toward supporting local firms to grow. In fact, economically, the return rate back to the community is greater from this approach than courting new larger business through offering incentives. In addition, the economic return to use local businesses and local labor is apparent."

12. How significant an investment should Champaign make to try to lure back the IHSA boys' basketball tournament once its contract with Peoria expires in 2020?

"It would be a complement to the efforts of many to bring the tournament back to the State Farm Center. The location enables many in central Illinois to watch and cheer high school athletes. A secondary benefit to the revenue that would be generated is showcasing all Champaign has to offer while also show casing the athletes."

13. What's the thing or two you're proudest of about living in Champaign?

"Champaign is unique being side by side with Urbana, ringed by growing villages and further ringed by the best farmland in the world, with a great Big Ten university at its geographic center. I cannot think of another like-kind community with these characteristics in the U.S. The potential of this intriguing mix and how to make the most of the potentials is my goal as a member of the Champaign City Council.

"To continue this conversation with N-G readers, what are suggestions on how to better create connectivity throughout the communities and county — structurally, environmentally, economically? Just to generate responses, think about a hanging monorail running north and south connecting Savoy with downtown Champaign and maybe further north. I tested this idea while canvassing. The response was to run it parallel to the railroad tracks. This would take a lot of traffic off the roads in addition to connectivity. Send me your ideas."

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