DANVILLE – After not meeting for about six months, the Vermilion County Land Bank Authority will meet Thursday and consider how it’s moving forward with a new name and as a regional land bank.
Pat O’Shaughnessy, who has been the land bank executive director, said he likely will continue to be interim director for a while until an executive director for the regional land bank is found. He said finding a full-time director is at the top of the next steps moving forward.
“It will probably be me for the few months to get going,” he said about having an interim executive director. “Somebody has to be what I’m doing now as we move forward with the merger and the search. I don’t think it’s any different than what I’m doing now.”
The Vermilion County Land Bank is expected to change its name to the Central Illinois Land Bank. Land banks are public or community-owned entities created to assist with community revitalization projects.
Rantoul and St. Joseph have already voted to join Vermilion County in a regional land bank. Champaign County, Decatur and other communities also have expressed interest.
The Vermilion County Land Bank will act on approving Rantoul and St. Joseph as members to the Central Illinois Land Bank at its Thursday meeting.
“That’s two great communities to start with,” O’Shaughnessy said.
O’Shaughnessy said they’ve had interest from other places, not just in east central Illinois to join the regional land bank. That’s why they are veering away from calling the regional land bank East Central Illinois Land Bank.
He said Champaign County is expected to vote on joining the land bank in September or October. Champaign County can help with geographic information system mapping, advice and other things, he added.
Two other communities in Champaign County also have talked about joining.
Decatur reached out after a conference call, with an interest in joining an existing land bank instead of creating a new one, O’Shaughnessy said.
He said the board realizes it needs to grow and take advantage of other people’s resources and consistencies, and work together with grant writing. In-kind contributions can help the regional land bank grow, he added.
The land bank this week also is expected to approve a job description for an executive director.
“We hope to attract a qualified individual,” O’Shaughnessy said.
The Vermilion County Land Bank still has a $350,000 grant and Rantoul has about $125,000, in which some funds can be used toward a director.
The regional land bank also plans to apply for about $200,000 through the Illinois Housing Development Authority for a land bank capacity grant.
The board also is expected to set a budget and approve negotiating a line of credit for the regional land bank.
“IHDA really wants to see regional land banking grow,” O’Shaughnessy said. “IHDA is excited about it.”
O’Shaughnessy said the regional land bank will be a one-stop shop in dealing with blighted and dilapidated property, and help developers with what grants and land are available.
“It will be beneficial for each community that joins,” he said.
He added he’s looking forward to the regional land bank and to “let it be what it should be. We’re talking about slow growth as we go.”
He said he anticipates the regional land bank board will meet more regularly.
In other Vermilion County Land Bank projects, there have been about six properties, including three commercial properties, to finish up for the Carle medical campus project in Danville.
The board also will hear updates on two house demolitions completed this summer in Catlin and Georgetown.
The land bank also is discussing the sale of lots agreement with the City of Danville, and taking title to property and being an intermediary for the Hoopeston truck stop and hotel project at Routes 1 and 9.