Philo Road renovation designed

By K. Lamorris Waller

The final concept designs have been developed and were presented by Urbana Public Works on Jan. 28 for the renovation of Philo Road in Urbana, focusing on the blocks of Florida Avenue to Colorado Avenue and from Colorado Avenue to Windsor Road. Although designs are still in development stages, some street schematics have been heavily discussed for the future streetscape.

Improvements of these streets that stakeholders mentioned included more attractive foliage, building renovations, improved street walking areas, better street lighting and street sculptures, according to Garret Perry, project manager.

These new additions will give the area more identity, Perry said. However, before construction can start, many details must first be ironed out between city council members and contractors.

Cost estimates and an implementation strategy must first be presented before the process can be launched, Perry said. Furthermore, although this plan is making strides toward breaking ground, the process will take longer than a year to complete.

Many of the designs that are being considered were thought up by Urbana residents during a four day work session, Perry added. The Urbana Public Works will design and build only what the city council members approve, and they have no creative control over the future landscape.

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“When ideas were being thrown around, people were drawing what they wanted to see on the streets,” Perry said. “People really got into the whole idea of the concept design.”

Since proper street lighting has become one of the many hot topics between city council members, contractors and residents, there may also be new cut-off lights in walking areas.

“We cannot take any light poles out,” said William Grey, Public Works director, during a city council meeting. “We do, however, want to maximize the efficiency of lighting in those areas.”

However, as successful as this plan seems, it cannot be executed without the support of Urbana residents. Brandon Bowersox, Ward 4, said he wants and has gotten some very positive feedback from residents.

Moreover, Bowersox also said that after some time, more private owners will hopefully come on board and help out with some design ideas because of the great results.

“The very first step, which is extremely important, is that we make sure we have the support of everyone in that area and don’t just start building,” he said. “It is extremely important to get some of the private business owners in that area to get involved and be supportive. That’s essential.”