Cities reach joint cable agreement

By Jenette Sturges

The City of Urbana voted to create an agreement with the City of Champaign to jointly negotiate cable franchises with Insight Communications on Monday night.

Once agreed upon by both cities, the agreement would allow the cities to hire an outside consulting firm, Moss & Barnett, to negotiate with Insight. Champaign is expected to vote on the agreement tonight.

One question raised by the council was the question of negotiating for one channel devoted to public access television. Urbana currently operates a public access channel, UPTV on Insight channel six. Champaign does not have a public access channel.

“Urbana really has a commitment to public programming,” said Brandon Bowersox, Ward 4. “We have somewhat different philosophies for it.”

Danielle Chynoweth, Ward 2, said the agreement would accommodate these differences.

If approved by the City of Champaign, the contract is expected to cost $139,000. The cities will split the cost, with Urbana paying one-third of the total cost of the consulting firm.

In other news, the city’s new public arts program is also underway. Council members heard from Anna Hochhalter, the public arts coordinator, who presented a summary of planned programs for local artists. Upcoming projects include a sculpture program, displays for local artists in the city hall and the return of the Boneyard Arts Festival. Council members offered their own ideas, including new, decorative designs for bike racks and a program for streetlight banners.

Also discussed at the meeting was the question of clearing snow from the sidewalks. One resident of the city sent in a letter expressing her concern for citizens who cannot clear their sidewalks safely. Urbana does not currently require residents to clear their sidewalks, but is considering a plan to do so.