Urbana discusses investing in water

By Jenette Sturges

The Urbana City Council voted on two ordinances Monday night concerning the city’s water supply. The council voted to invest $43,000 into water consulting services and to split costs of water consulting services with Champaign. The approval of the measure was prompted by concerns of past boil orders, problems with fire hydrants and the proposed sale of Illinois American Water, the company that currently supplies Urbana’s water supply. The vote was met with criticism by Barry Suits, network operations manager for the Champaign County District of Illinois American Water, who cited thousands of dollars in tax money used for a study to test the feasibility of local government ownership of the company.

“It’s hard for the company to understand why valuable tax dollars are being spent on actions against the water company instead of important priorities, one of which is the Mahomet Aquifer,” he said.

“I think we’ve invested so much money and so much time, and it doesn’t seem like anything fruitful has come from it,” said Heather Stevens, Ward 6, the only member of the council to vote against the measures. “I’ve never seen anything that the government owns that runs better than what is run by a private business. We have great water in Urbana.”

The city also approved the re-zoning of an area in west Urbana, just south of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, to allow construction of Gregory Place II, a building that would include shops, offices and student apartments.

Gregory Place I stands across the street of the proposed site, 701 S. Gregory St. Charlie Smyth, Ward 1, encouraged the developers to recruit a bookstore and a drug store to meet the needs of student residents.

The council also voted unanimously to adopt amendments to city ordinances concerning animal cruelty on Monday night. The amendments were adopted because of the high costs to citizens for impoundment and medical treatment of animals.