Carle asks for housing flexibility

By Crystal Kang

A representative from Carle Foundation asked the Urbana City Council Monday night to refrain from placing a binding agreement on the foundation’s commitment to replacement housing in Urbana.

There were some discrepancies between the Crystal Lake Neighborhood Plan presented by Carle in October 2008 and Mayor Laurel Lunt Prussing’s understanding of Carle’s 2007 report, which stated its commitment to work with the city to address the need for affordable housing in Urbana.

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Originally, Carle Hospital had proposed its plan to expand its Medical Institute Campus, which could result in the permanent demolition of 50 Urbana homes. To alleviate the effects that the expansion could have on the community, Carle wrote that the foundation plans to help the city find a solution to the major issue of replacement housing.

“Carle Foundation’s community resources should be used to improve health care not homes in the city,” said Carle executive vice president and chief operating officer John Snyder. “All we’re asking for is flexibility not (sole) commitment to the one-to-one housing replacement in the Crystal Lake Neighborhood Planning.”

Prussing said the city is looking for the same commitment Carle made more than a year ago.

“We have a commitment to preserving neighborhoods,” said Prussing. “I proposed the idea of replacement housing. I asked the staff to work with the neighborhood to draw up a plan for the neighborhood.”

Prussing said the city staff held a workshop for neighbors to come and voice their ideas. The city planners were not concerned about knocking down homes for major projects such as building highways and encroaching businesses on residential property, but they are beginning to realize that the neighborhood is just needs to be preserved.