Over and over again, since I've been listening anyhow, I've heard individual members of the Unit 4 school board suggest to this community that if "someone has a better idea out there, please bring it forward."
Well, here's a better idea for them:
It's well known by now that the Champaign Park District Board isn't going to play ball with Dodds Park (a solid solution — and a disappointment, frankly).
Spalding Park (another good solution, but keep reading) has been nixed by the Unit 4 School Board (because the consultant they hired with our tax dollars thinks like a person who must have had a safe dropped on their head).
And because plopping a school in the middle of cornfields miles and miles away from where the next crucial phase in our community's development is one of the more ridiculous ideas I have heard in my adult life, this particular solution seems like it could be the right way to go.
I do not believe it's perfect. Nothing is going to be perfect. The designs even came to me with a list of strengths and weaknesses, so here they are:
- Proximity to Stratton Elementary School, Headstart, Novak Academy, and Franklin
- Close proximity to student population
- Adjacent to major arterial streets of Neil, Bradley, and Market
- Opportunity to rid the neighborhood of blight (i.e. Ameren sites)
- Close proximity to Spalding Park allows for possible shared athletic complex with Champaign Park District
- Updated streets and sidewalks throughtout the neighborhood lowers development costs
- Walking paths connecting campuses provides greater access with less carbon footprint
- Ameren Power Substation will require relocation nearby
- Up to seven business relocations
- Up to thirteen homes would need to be purchased; total EAV is $169,793
- Proximity to railroad tracks
I'd love to hear your thoughts. I have plenty of my own, of course, but chime in. I personally like it — even moreso than Spalding Park on its own.
Anything — and I mean anything — is better than the ideas coming from the current Unit 4 board at the moment.
If this isn't evidence enough that the referendum should be either placed on hold or at the least, be proposed without site specificity, then not only do I not know what is — but the Unit 4 board members who've made overtures to the community to offer up alternative ideas are a bunch of liars.
Here is to hoping they are not. Here is hoping that despite the rhetoric, they actually start listening to the people who are stating that the location is everything.
We will see what happens on Monday, I suppose.