Champaign City Council disscuss fate of Bristol Park neighborhood

Champaign City Council convened Tuesday night to discuss the Bristol Park neighborhood plan and the multi-family recycling program that will begin later on this year.

The Bristol Park neighborhood is an area of Champaign is located north of Bradley Avenue to Interstate 74 and east of Neil Street to Canadian National Railroad tracks.

The area is composed of three areas, including Bristol Place, Garwood Addition and Sherwood. The Bristol Place and Garwood neighborhoods are home to a predominantly African American communities, while a majority of Hispanics reside in Sherwood.

“The vacant properties in the area have contributed to crime in the area,” said Gordy Hulten, council member district 5.

Juvenile delinquency is also a problem in the area, said Michael LaDue, district 2.

“If those problems aren’t addressed all the other problems are perpetuated,” LaDue said.

Home ownership in the area has given way to an increasing number of rental properties, said Greg Skaggs, community development specialist for the city.

Many of the homes in this area are the oldest in Champaign, dating from the 1800s to the 1930s, according to Skaggs.

He added despite the age of the homes, the neighborhood is home to mostly young families.

Many of the rental properties have been subject to a lack of maintenance, a problem which city staff wants to address in its plan, Skaggs said.

Skaggs said there needed to be a way to hold landlords more accountable for their properties.

The plan discusses a number of goals including creating better housing, engaging residents in opportunities that create a healthy quality of life, enhancing neighborhood aesthetics, and promoting a safe and stable environment.

Mishauno Woggon, a planner for the city, said the Bristol Park community needs to become an area where neighbors feel encouraged to know one another, where people invest in community facilities that serve neighborhood needs, and where people value the safety of community.

Marci Dodds, council member district 4, said she hopes neighborhood development is not a benchmark but a beginning.

“They live there and the residents need to be involved,” Dodds said.

The council voted to give further direction to city staff to implement the plan; it will be brought before the council again on December 7.

Also on the agenda was the discussion of the multi-family recycling program which is slated to begin on December 1.

City staff has run into problems with mixed buildings, properties that have residential units as well as commercial units.

With the current set-up, commercial units that are part of those buildings are benefitting from the recycling program without paying any additional fees.

Examples of mixed buildings in Champaign include Carrie’s Jewelry and Antiques Shop and the One Main building in downtown Champaign.

City staff said that it has been difficult to establish a separate fee for the commercial units.

Council voted to include the mixed buildings in the recycling program for now, until an additional fee is decided later on.

Council also voted that buildings with fewer than five units be included in the program if they share garbage collection facilities with buildings that have more than five units, and are also part of the program.

City staff also recommended that all nonprofit organizations be required to participate in the recycling program; council members voted to pass this recommendation.

The recycling program will be up and running on December 1.