City set to own former manufacturing site

By Joshua Keeran -

Within the coming week, the city of Urbana is expected to become the owner of roughly 20 acres of property on the west side of Urbana, City Council learned Tuesday.

“It’s been a long time coming, but if all goes well, before the next meeting (May 16), we will take possession of the property down at Q3,” Director of Administration Kerry Brugger told council.

Vacant since 2008, city officials have spent the past three years trying to acquire the former Q3 JMC Inc. property containing various buildings at 605 Miami St. and 200 Beech St. The property previously was used for manufacturing purposes.

After the city’s first attempt to acquire the property through expedited foreclosure was denied due to the valuation of the property being higher than taxes owed, city officials informed the Champaign County Board of Revision it would be interested in taking ownership in the future if all taxes were waived and a developer were to come forward with interest in the property.

In November 2016, Brugger announced the city was working on a three-party agreement to clean up the property and redevelop it. Following the announcement, the Board of Revision in December 2016 voted in favor of transferring ownership of the property to the city free and clear of all delinquent taxes.

Now that all necessary transfer paperwork is nearly complete, Brugger said the next step is finalizing the agreements to get the ball officially rolling on the cleanup and redevelopment of the property.

“A lot of effort has been put into this project,” he said. “It’s going to be a significant project, we believe, once we get squared away with it and get everybody going.”

While the developer in the proposed three-party agreement has yet to be disclosed, the city has confirmed its involvement as well as the involvement of Honeywell Aerospace, which will help remediate contaminated groundwater on the west side of the property where Grimes Aerospace – acquired by Honeywell Aerospace – once operated a facility.

Funding additional projects

Council approved two administrative requests to spend additional funds on a project that recently wrapped up, a new restroom facility at Melvin Miller Park, as well as a project just underway on the west side – the North Oakland Street Phase 2 Project.

The restroom facility opened last week near the Pony League concession stand/announcer booth. The City Council agreed to pay the Howell Buildings Company $1,127.97 for additional work needed to complete the project.

Brugger said the extra costs were a result of two changes following initial approval of the project. One involved installing a mop sink in the restroom facility instead of the Pony League building, while the other change involved the installation of 12 to 16 feet of sidewalk to create a uniform walkway between both buildings.

The North Oakland Street Phase 2 Project began this week. Council signed off on spending an additional $545.81 on the project, which involves the installation of new sidewalk, curbs and gutters, and catch basins along North Oakland Street.

“When we originally scoped this project, we felt that we only had enough grant funds to be able to go (from West Church Street north) to Union Alley on the west side of the street, but not Union Alley on the east side,” Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said.

After the bid for the project came in below estimate, he added, the decision was made to improve both sides of North Oakland up to Union Alley.

Once phase two is complete, Crabill said, the plan is to seek funds to continue moving north to Gwynne Street and onto Mosgrove Street.

In other business:

•Council passed a motion granting Clerk of Council Amy Deere a 1.5 percent pay increase, raising her yearly salary to $12,180. The pay increase is retroactive to Jan. 1.

•Crabill informed council the city started enforcing its tall-grass ordinance (10 inches or taller) on May 1.

Property owners were reminded if they receive a violation notice, they have five days to comply before the city will abate the nuisance at a cost to the property owner of $100 an hour plus an administrative fee of $25.

•To continue with the semi-annual groundwater sampling at the closed city-owned landfill, council passed a motion authorizing Hull & Associates to carry out the testing for 2017 at a cost of $30,000.

•Council signed off on the city’s participation in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s annual winter road salt bid.

“We are looking at putting another 700 tons on the bid,” Brugger said. “We are obligated to take 90 percent (630 tons) and they are obligated to deliver up to 110 percent.”

The city will be required to take delivery of the salt by the end of April 2018. Brugger added the additional salt will allow the city to replenish its stock following the 2017-2018 winter season.

•Nearly two years after the city began supplying water and sanitary sewer services to 638 Childrens Home Road, council approved an ordinance officially accepting the 1.419-acre property into the city.

Crabill said the annexation only involves the parcel on the property containing the farmhouse. The barn and acreage will remain in Urbana Township, he added.

•Council approved a resolution authorizing preliminary approval between the city and ODOT for the resurfacing of a portion of state Route 29.

Crabill said the city, in cooperation with ODOT, is repaving state Route 29 from the U.S. Route 36/state Route 29 split to Eastview Drive this summer. The resolution, he added, involves ODOT’s plans to continue resurfacing state Route 29 from Eastview Drive to Yankee Hill Road (just east of Mutual).

“We have no participation in it as far as costs,” Crabill said. “It’s just basically a formality because it touches our border, so (ODOT) is required to get our blessing.”

By Joshua Keeran

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.