Council looks into commission and program for arts

By Eric Heisig

The Urbana City Council’s Committee of the Whole discussed an ordinance Monday night to establish a public arts commission and permanent public arts program.

While the ordinance was not voted on, many Council members expressed their affinity for the program, which could be used to support a variety of performance and beautification projects around Urbana.

Danielle Chynoweth, Ward 2, expressed her support for the new arts program and listed ways the city could cut the budget in other areas in order to find funds. Among her ideas were to cut down on oil use by the city and use more biodiesel fuel.

Chynoweth said the excess oil could be sold to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, the University and the city of Champaign.

“Less oil, more arts,” Chynoweth said.

Local artists and citizens supporting the arts came to the Council to express their support for the ordinance.

“Urbana has always supported the arts,” said Mark Enslin, an Urbana music composer and actor. “I have stayed here for the encouragement. Creativity encourages creativity.”

Enslin said it is rare that the Council can have an encouraging role in what goes on in the community and that he is in favor of the ordinance.

“We need to move forward with this,” said Susan Parenti, an Urbana experimental composer and playwright, who said the arts need to be made more public.

The voting on the establishment of a public arts commission and permanent public arts program was deferred to the May 5 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Another item on the agenda was the discussion of an ordinance banning the use of mobile electronic devices, or cellular phones, while driving in Urbana.

The Council agreed to do further research before bringing the ordinance to a vote.

Some citizens opposed the ordinance, and others said they believed it would make the roads safer.

“Drivers with cell phones impair themselves,” said Georgia Morgan, Urbana resident. “It is a good thing to limit cell phones while driving.”

Camille Goudeseune, an Urbana resident and bike rider, said he now rides his bikes in areas where cars cannot get to him. He said he has seen the statistics and added that they are bleak.

Other items discussed

The City Council voted to give permission to put up an electronic sign, designed to change advertisements every 10 seconds, on the southwest corner of Windsor and Philo roads.

The City Council voted to give permission to builders who will construct a retail and office building at the intersection of University and Lincoln avenues, occupying a vacant area owned by the University and the city of Urbana.