HELP US STOP THE PROPOSED OLYMPIAN DRIVE EXTENSION THAT THE CITIES OF URBANA AND CHAMPAIGN AND CHAMPAIGN COUNTY ARE SEEKING TO FUND USING STATE AND FEDERAL STIMULUS MONEY
The city governments of Urbana and Champaign, The Champaign County Board and the Champaign Urbana Chambers of Commerce are sending a delegation to Washington DC in two weeks to solicit federal funds to begin construction of the extension of Olympian Drive eastward from where it ends east of Market Street to connect with Highway 45 in Urbana. This road would bisect prime farmland just north of Urbana-Champaign and destroy forever the unique agricultural community that has existed in this area since the end of the Civil War Moreover, the road is just the beginning of a larger long-range plan to rezone the region for light industry.
The residents of this area are concerned that many irreplaceable community benefits will be lost by this proposed zoning and development plan, which was hatched fifteen years ago when local priorities and the national economy were very different than they are today. While much would be lost, very little stands to be gained.
Many irreplaceable community benefits will be lost if the Olympian Drive extension slashes through this countryside:
-We threaten our incredible potential for near-community local foods production which has proven benefits for the local economy (job creation, increased tax revenues), public health, and quality of life for all residents of Champaign County;
-We threaten several designated centennial farms that will be cut in two, making it more complicated to manage them and increasing the risk that farm families who have been on this land for as much as seven generations will have to stop farming;
-We lose the tranquil beauty of a rural place minutes from town, with fields, farmsteads, streams, and forests, for bike touring and passive enjoyment by the public will be lost;
-We lose prime agricultural lands situated on some of the best prairie soils in the world;
-We bisect one of the few effective wildlife corridors in the area (Saline Branch), which deer, coyotes, mink, weasels, ducks, muskrat, and an amazing array of other native animals use as an uninterrupted pathway linking woodlots and riparian systems north of Urbana;
-We destroy Indian graves and remnants connected to the original inhabitants;
-We lose the opportunity to gain a unique reputation for sustainability and thoughtful consideration of quality of life for current inhabitants and for the entire Champaign county community.
The putative gains of the proposed Olympian Drive project are questionable:
-Light industry tax base, based on a build it and they will come strategy. We question if there are relevant and recent studies that demonstrate the economic need for developing this agricultural land into light industry, given that sufficient areas already exist for industrial development. For example:
-There are three other roads already in existence within 1/4 to 1/2 mile of the proposed Olympian Drive extension. The current roads already meet the needs of the community and connect to Route 45.
-No occupants or companies have been identified to occupy this corridor;
-Unused or underutilized space exist both north and south of town;
-The Village of Rantoul, less than 15 miles north of Urbana has substantial urban/commercial/ industrial space that has yet to be developed. If there are funds for light industry development in Champaign County, it should go to areas that are already primed for this type of development.
-Highway 45 has been identified as a major corridor for industrial expansion, and it links Urbana and Rantoul; why not concentrate development in this area
-There appears to be no serious updating of proposals and long range plans developed during the mid-1990's to determine if their assumptions about growth are still valid and appropriate to 2010 and beyond.
-Further, we know of no comprehensive environmental impact analysis that would project the increase in traffic, pollutants, disruption of native species, destruction of historical sites, and diversion of water and other natural resources necessary for agricultural production.
If you agree that we need to find alternatives to constructing Olympian Drive through PRIME AGRICULTURAL lands with tremendous environmental and historical value and green economic development potential, please sign our petition below. This will be distributed to the mayors of Urbana and Champaign, their City Council members, The Champaign County Board, Champaign Co. Regional Planning Commission and other influential local government officials. It is not too late to provide alternatives to this project if we ACT NOW!!
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