Urbana to rebudget Boneyard beautification plan

A beautification project for the part of Boneyard Creek stormwater channel that runs through downtown Urbana is being rebudgeted after bids came in higher than officials expected.

Urbana City Council aldermen discussed the improvement project located near Griggs and Race streets, at its regular meeting Monday. Aldermen postponed a vote to allow for more discussion about cost-cutting options. Initial bids for the project to the area came in roughly $2 million over budget.

“A lot of the savings have to do with a change of the materials that are going to be used or even things like the size of the trees that we’re going to be planting along the creek,” said Dennis Roberts, Ward 5.

Roberts said officials are now working on making changes that will save lots of money but not be too noticeable, such as changing the construction materials and getting rid of accent lights.

“These are integral to the construction of the creek design and have to be decided before real construction starts,” he said.

Bigger eliminations from the project include a stairwell that would have been along the east side of Race Street and a scenic overlook, said Brad Bennett, project manager and senior civil engineer at Urbana Public Works.

The project was originally planned with a $7.5 million budget, but the bids that came in from O’Neil Brothers and Stark Excavating totaled $10.3 million and $14.8 million, respectively.

Bennett said construction on the project is expected to begin the week of Oct. 15, weather permitting. He said it will be a long construction process, which he expects to be completed in June 2014.

He said the improvements will create a public gathering space and draw more people to the area.

“From a financial standpoint, we’re hoping it’ll spur economic development downtown,” Bennett said. “And, by having that nice amenity there, (it will) bring more people into the downtown area and benefit the business and property owners.”

Once completed, local businesses like Silvercreek, a restaurant in downtown Urbana, will benefit from the project.

“Initially, there’s going to be a lot of construction, but long-term it’s going to have a great positive impact,” owner Allen Strongsaid.

Roberts said the changes should be approved at Monday’s meeting.

Maddie can be reached at [email protected]