Champaign designs five-year plan for spurring cultural, economic growth

By Patrick Wade

The Champaign City Council took some time out Monday and Tuesday nights to plan for the future.

Outside of its normal meeting environment, the Council convened on the fourth floor of Illinois Terminal, 45 E. University Ave., to discuss and refine plans for the next five years.

The Council outlined six main goals, most aimed at improving quality of life and economic growth.

Among other projects, the Council hopes to diversify shopping opportunities, improve infrastructure and bring arts and culture to the downtown area.

The Council also discussed a plan for the University district, including further development of Research Park and effectively controlling crime on campus.

Specific direction on how to execute these projects will be determined at a later time.

“There’s a myriad of possible things we can do,” said City Manager Steve Carter. “Everyone has their own ideas about that.”

The Council discusses its future goals shortly after each election, which takes place every two years. Carter said it is a great time for this to take place, as the council members elected in April are fresh with ideas from talking with voters.

The Council also works with goals set by past councils.

“With the new council, we re-prioritize the whole bit,” said consultant Lyle Sumek, who is helping direct the goal-setting process.

“You always tweak every couple of years your vision and revise your actions every year,” Sumek said.

Sumek interviewed each council member to determine how they would like to see the city in 15 years. From that, a five-year strategic plan was developed to outline specific action.

That plan, Sumek said, will be refined in coming years.