Urbana pursues projects for improvement

Navigating around Urbana may soon become easier.

The city will be collecting input for a new signage system and will be adopting a city logo.

Selbert Perkins Design studied the community and created a few options for the theme of the future way finding markers. The signs can help Urbana residents locate more easily the new businesses that are part of the Community Development Series.

Over the summer, Einstein Bagels and Elements of Design opened. Merry Ann’s Diner will soon open in the Gregory Place West building in the east campus commercial area. Additional expansion is anticipated by the city council because of a rent subsidy that was adopted in lieu of an interest subsidy. Urbana may also see a County Market open at the former location of Baskin Robbins.

In addition to new businesses, the city will also be installing a tax on motor fuel.

Assistant City Engineer Gale Jamison said that although the revenue would not be realized for a few years, the city is in need of revenue to support road maintenance and that this is the only approach they have been considering. According to the Capitol Improvement Plan for Urbana, income falls short of the expenditures for road maintenance, which will push the budget into increasingly negative numbers over the next few years.

Constituents were invited to speak against the fuel tax at council meetings over the summer. However, Urbana residents were more concerned about an ordinance passed limiting the berth of recreational fires, as well as an ordinance that may declare the Lincoln Hotel, 209 South Broadway Ave., a local historical landmark.

Urbana resident Scott Dossett argued against the fire ordinance, asking the council why they would not ban wall sockets or candles, which the United States Fire Administration rates as high-risk objects for fires.

“What we can’t control is what they’re burning and that’s why we have the law,” Urbana Fire Chief Mike Dilley said.

Furniture formerly used for food-less bonfires can be moved to front porches. Students moving back to a house with a front porch in Urbana will have to make sure their furniture coincides with an ordinance that was adopted over the summer which prohibits the use of indoor furniture outdoors.

“I support this ordinance. We have learned that the furniture made today is highly flammable and highly toxic when burned,” Ward 7 Alderman Diane Marlin said. “Today’s furniture is not what you and I grew up with.”

Dossett also argued in support of making the Lincoln Hotel a local historic site, a decision which has now been pushed to September.

Rebecca Bird, planner for the Historic Preservation Committee, spoke about the historic hotel and suggested that the council wait until September 13 to vote on whether or not it would become a local historical site, so that the current owner would not turn away potential buyers who will franchise the boutique hotel.