A little history on those brown street signs you see in Champaign:
Now more than 10 years old, Illini Boulevard is up for a renewal of its honorary street designation this month.
In April 2000, the city council began its honorary street name program to recognize groups or individuals for their contributions to the city of Champaign. Two months later, on July 5, 2000, the city council approved its first honorary designation: Illini Boulevard signs would be placed along Kirby Avenue from Mattis Avenue to the city boundary with Urbana to recognize the University of Illinois’ importance to the city.
Since that first approval, the council has designated a total 29 honorary street names , each with a 10-year expiration date. By the way, the link in that last sentence is not a complete list — it has yet to be updated with this year’s designations for Mable Thomas and George Blackburn. I’m sure each one of those 29 designations comes with a great story if you were to dig into its background.
I guess technically, Illini Boulevard currently is not Illini Boulevard — it hasn’t been since July 6, 2010. The city council will be discussing its renewal this week .
City officials recently put out a memo detailing the guidelines (included in previous link) for renewing honorary street designations, since this is the first time they’re dealing with it. Basically, the city will contact the individual who made the original nomination 10 years prior and remind them of the expiration date.
That person will have to re-nominate the designee (this has already happened for Illini Boulevard, if you were wondering), and the city council will have to re-approve of the designation. This will happen 29 times during the next 10 years, and that number will continue to increase as more streets are assigned honorary names (the city has a 12-per-year limit on new designations).
It will cost the city $1,610 sometime during the next 10 years to replace those 14 brown Illini Boulevard street signs as they become dirty and weathered. For comparison, Illini Boulevard is by far the longest stretch of honorary signs  — it’s more than twice the distance of the next longest.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when city officials can’t find the person who originally nominated one of those honorary streets. Will someone else step up and make a new nomination, or will the brown signs come down?
And if you’ll indulge me for a second while I tout the contributions of current and former News-Gazette Inc. employees: Jim Turpin’s Penny Lane and Roger Ebert Boulevard will be up for renewal in 2012 and Loren Tate Way in 2016.
Like I said, I’m sure each of the 29 honorees comes with a great story. If you know of any, I’d like to hear it — please post it below.