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OAKWOOD — When Danville resident Kim Johnson is low on gas, she usually waits to fuel up in Oakwood.
“I look to see who has the cheaper price,” said Johnson, who commutes to her job in Champaign on Interstate 74.
She was referring to the Phillips 66/Colonial Pantry station and Pilot Travel Center on the south side of the interstate at the Oakwood exit as well as the Love’s Travel Stop & Country Store, which opened on the north side late last year.
“Usually, they’re the same price. But if you go by at the right time, one might be cheaper,” said Johnson, who was filling up Thursday morning at the Pilot station, where gas was $2.84 a gallon, one cent cheaper than its neighbors. “It’s not much, but every penny helps.”
Later this year, she and other motorists will have even more options.
This past spring, Marathon broke ground on a new Speedway gas station and convenience store on 5 acres of land on North Oakwood Street, across from McDonald’s and Dollar General. Village President Clay Woodard said it’s scheduled to open in November.
The project is a $7.2 million investment, and the business is expected to create 30 to 35 full- and part-time jobs.
Unlike the other stations, Woodard said the Speedway won’t be an actual truck stop.
Semitrailer “trucks will be able to fuel up there, but there’s no overnight parking,” he said. “That’s what they’ve indicated to us at this point.”
Some residents, including lifelong Oakwood resident Warren Rasberry, wonder why the village needs another station when it already has four, including the Casey’s General Store a few miles down the road on the corner of South Oakwood and U.S. 150.
“We didn’t need it, but we got it,” said Rasberry, who prefers filling up at Casey’s, which is close to his house.
While the new station will certainly serve residents, Woodard said, adding it was more about capturing sales tax revenue from out-of-town people traveling the interstate.
“In Oakwood, we don’t levy a property tax,” he said. “So, we want to bring in as many businesses as we can, so we generate sales tax. I’m a firm believer in sales tax. Everybody pays it.”
Woodard said sales tax revenue makes up a large portion of the village’s $2 million operating budget. Those receipts don’t even include sales tax from Love’s, which should kick in around January.
Woodard said the village has used the funding to make storm-water system and sidewalk improvements, build a small recreation area in a mobile home park, and improve the baseball field at Oakwood Park.
“Within the next year, we’re going to be building our new community center on Scott Street,” he said, adding that residents are still benefiting from the stations as well as other businesses that draw travelers, even if they don’t use them.
Cathy Beaulier, a lifelong resident who works at McDonald’s, said she’s glad to see her hometown is growing. Now she’d like to see a hotel, grocery store and dine-in restaurant.
“I think a Cracker Barrel would be great,” she said.
Woodard said that currently, the land north and south of the interstate is owned by private landowners, whom developers would have to negotiate with if they are interested in that area. He said village leaders would be willing to help facilitate that.
“We’re a wonderful, growing community,” he said. “We’re progressive, and we’re interested in business. Anything we can do to foster a good, cooperative relationship between business and government within our community, we’re all in.”