The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 16, 2013

Federal courthouse representatives concerned about parking

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Some people might think there isn’t hardly anyone using the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse anymore, but head of security Bob Rouse brought in a stack of schedules of cases, hearings and meetings that had been scheduled there in 2012 to today.

Rouse, Judge Jerry Fines and Debby Townsley, deputy in charge of bankruptcy court, voiced their concerns at a public meeting Tuesday at city hall regarding proposed elimination of parking in front of the federal building as part of Vermilion Street resurfacing plans.

“Parking is bad enough,” Rouse said.

There are Social Security disability, bankruptcy and other hearings and cases regularly scheduled at the federal building, in addition to attorney, creditor and other meetings, Rouse said. People come here from all over, including Terre Haute, Ind. and Kankakee, he added.

They are eating here, filling up their gas tanks and spending money here, Rouse said. Eliminating parking near the building would make experiences worse for people coming here, he said.

“Hundreds of people come in every month,” Fines said. There can be 40-50 hearings.

Townsley said the city says it’s trying to bring in business and revitalize areas, but making parking harder for people isn’t making parts of the community more inviting.

Dave Tuggle, an attorney with the firm Tuggle, Schiro and Lichtenberger, 510 N. Vermilion St., said they rent space at the federal building and they extended their lease knowing on-street parking is available. Tuggle said the elimination of parking would cause more difficulties for disabled persons going to the federal building.

“It would be very problematic for my disabled clients,” Tuggle said.

One suggestion Tuggle has for the city is to make the lot where Chittick Family Eye Care’s site burned down at Vermilion and Harrison streets a parking lot.

Tuggle said the attorney’s office has a lot of interest in the Vermilion Street corridor.

The attorney’s office, north of St. James United Methodist Church, owns the lot north of its building — the former dry cleaner’s building will be razed but the former gas station building kept for storage — and another building farther north on Vermilion Street.

Others who attended the public meeting were Doug Knapp, with Express Packaging Services, 509 N. Vermilion St. Knapp said he likes the additional planned median landscaping north of the downtown.

“I like what I’m seeing in the downtown anyway,” Knapp said about the landscaping and planters downtown.

Churchill Towers resident Jennifer Debenham said she also likes the proposed median landscaping plans.

“What you’ve done looks really nice,” she told Urban Services Director David Schnelle, about Hazel Street improvements. “It’s very pleasant to walk by.”

“It’s all adjustable,” Schnelle said about the parking elimination and other proposed plans.

A plan will be finalized after taking in all public comments.

The plan then will be presented to alderman for action. Ideally, bidding could occur in a couple months.

The project would include resurfacing Vermilion Street, from Fairchild to Harrison streets, resurfacing Vermilion from Main to Harrison, resurfacing North Street from Vermilion to Gilbert and resurfacing Harrison from Hazel to Vermilion. The project is estimated at $500,000. Funding will come from the city’s gas tax. The project cost doesn’t include curb ramps.

Plans for North Vermilion starting from Fairchild and heading south to downtown:

Fairchild to Davis: four lanes of traffic with two 5-feet shoulders that could be used for bicycles.

Davis to Williams: changing from four lanes of traffic to three at Williams.

Williams to Seminary: three lanes of traffic (one center turn lane), two 5-feet shoulders that could be used for bicycles, one parking lane that switches sides to accommodate observed use.

Seminary to Harrison: two lanes of traffic with a center landscaped median, two 5-feet shoulders that could be used for bicycles and one parking lane on the west side of Vermilion.

Intersections: Having three lanes of traffic at Williams and Seminary will help improve the turning movements at those intersections by having wider dedicated left turn lanes and wider combination right/thru lanes. There is enough room to offset the opposing left turn lanes slightly so that left turners can more easily see oncoming traffic.

There is a comment form on the city’s Web page at: http://www.danvillepublicworks.org/vermilion-rehabilitation.html for more input on the concept.

“The existing lanes are too narrow to keep it as it is,” Schnelle said.

There are currently four travel lanes with parking allowed on each side. With Vermilion being only 53 feet wide, that creates narrow travel lanes and two full-size vehicles side-by-side have difficulty fitting, especially when there are parked cars, according Schnelle.

Schnelle added the resurfacing will fix the rough roadway, where chunks of asphalt have been coming out.