There’s just something about the new year that sets folks to thinking about goals, plans, opportunities, etc. As you may have seen, we ran an article yesterday calling out some of we pie-eyed-optimist-editors’ wishes for the upcoming decade. We don’t have to deal with budgetary constraints or satisfying many different constituencies, so we can focus on fun stuff.
And then this morning, I saw that the News-Gazette’s Steve Bauer wrote an article urging Urbana residents to comment on their City Council’s goals. Unfortunately, the article spoke about those goals in such general terms that it was hard to get a handle on what they were. Urbana’s full goals document runs 10 pages long (Champaign’s are only two and a half, and copyrighted (!)), and there aren’t even any pictures, so it’s understandable that the piece in the paper didn’t have a great deal of depth. Fortunately, in the age of the internets, these documents are available online, and you can even provide links to them:
I’d encourage you to read them in full, if that’s your thing. This article is just going to list the major goals and pick out some high and low points. I apologize in advance for the lack of depth of analysis in what’s to follow; it’s mainly to give enough framework to start a dialogue on where our communities are headed in the eyes of our cities’ governments, and how those priorities mesh with your own.
Here are Urbana’s “core principles”:
The City of Urbana, therefore, works toward:
1. Supporting a healthy, diverse, and equitable community;
2. Increasing resilience and community sustainability with respect to food, water, energy, safety, housing, and other human needs;
3. Enhancing quality of life through stewardship of natural resources, restoration of ecological integrity, and conservation of open space;
4. Making Urbana a progressive, innovative place to live and work by supporting diverse cultures and opportunities;
5. Promoting a vibrant economy, job opportunities, and a positive educational environment; and
6. Providing transparent, well‐managed city government with an engaged citizenry.
And then their goals, each of which are followed by several strategies in the full plan:
1. Public Safety
Strategies focus on proper police and fire staffing, working with “problem properties,” ordinance reviews, and “address building security needs at City Facilities.”
2. Financial Sustainability
Lots of verbiage here about the broadband grant proposal (pdf), some talk about possibly making ambulance and water system municipal entities, and the desire to have a $3 million reserve for general fund spending.
3. Economic Development
- “Target desired uses such as a cinema, a new book store, boutiques, specialty stores, copy shop, and ice cream parlor.”
- “Continue to pursue funding for Olympian Drive (from Apollo Drive to US45) and extending Lincoln Avenue along its proposed alignment to Olympian Drive.”
- “Continue to administer and improve business development programs to meet business needs such as TIF Redevelopment Incentive Prgram and Enterprise Zone Designation.”
- “Continue to explore expansion of the city’s tax base through annexations.”
4. A vibrant, innovative downtown
This one is two pages all by itself. There’s some flowery language about “creat[ing] an overarching downtown vision statement” and such. There’s also a desire to “Restore Historic Lincoln Hotel as a viable hotel and conference center” and “pursue/continue redevelopment of Lincoln Square Village,” as well as to “make parking deck more attractive and easier to find.”
5. Environmental sustainability
Two more pages here, including a desire to adopt a climate action plan by May of this year that would include a “Net 20 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020 and Net 80 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050.” Also, “Promote production, accessibility and affordability of local farm and artisan products” which sounds like a lot more people are going to get involved in the Market at the Square planning, and there’s also a desire to “Grow the Urbana Market by establishing a year-round operation on a permanent location with commercial kitchen space that can be rented by vendors.” There’s also a lot of stuff about becoming a bike friendly and walkable community.
6. Quality of Life
More ambitious stuff here, including a continued promotion of public art, desire for additional affordable housing opportunities, promoting diversity in City business and staff, and promotion of continued intergovernmental cooperation.
Whew, that’s a lot of stuff. I’d say it’s pretty consistent with Urbana’s reputation as a liberal enclave, with a few notable exceptions, like the support for the Olympian extension.
The Champaign City Council has six goal statements, listed below, each of which are followed by several actions. I guess I’d reprint the whole thing, if it weren’t copyrighted. Read it all here. Here are the overarching goals:
- Our Community has a High Quality of Life — People Enjoy Living Here
Quality of life includes quality education at Unit 4 schools, “parks, trails, and open space in new growth areas,” a park and ride for CU-MTD, a Telecommunication Master Plan, and reduction in crime.
- Our Community Has Quality City Government
Not a whole lot to sink one’s teeth into here. Mostly planning to develop and update plans.
- Our Community has Healthy Neighborhoods
Possible opportunity to mock: “Evaluate neighborhood infrastructure conditions and adopt a funding strategy to address unmet needs.” A lot more planning to make plans here.
- Our Community Is The Home of the UI — A World Class University
To paraphrase: Hey, there’s a college here. We should let people know that. We would also like to annex part of it and make sure that crime doesn’t get out of control.
- Our Community has Balanced and Sustainable Growth
- Our Community Has a Vibrant Center City — Downtown to Campustown
Hey, here’s one from our list, kind of: “Support the Park District to develop a long range plan and funding strategy for the Virginia Theatre.”
To generalize, Urbana’s plan contains a lot of flowery language about things that would be really nice if they were accomplished, while Champaign’s goals aren’t so much goals as areas that will get attention. Our communities’ crippling lack of both an Irish pub and a monorail continue to get short shrift.