Champaign Voters Asked To Weigh In On Township Buildings Sale At Town Meeting

April 13, 2015
 
The supervisor's office building for City of Champaign Township, in Champaign.

The City of Champaign Township Supervisor's office, one of two buildings the township would like to sell; township assessor's building is visible in rear, to the right.

(Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media)

The question is, should City of Champaign Township put its two office buildings at Green and Randolph up for sale, and purchase new office space? The answer will come from the township’s voters attending Tuesday night’s annual town meeting.

Every township in Illinois holds an annual meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of April, where local voters can weigh in on township business. But there’s little of substance on the agenda at most of these meetings, and attendance is often light.

But at City of Champaign Township (which covers nearly all of the city of Champaign, except for a portion in southwest Champaign), there are two substantive questions on the agenda for voters to decide.

Township Supervisor Andy Quarnstrom says the current township buildings at Green and Randolph Streets have outlived their usefulness. He hopes they can find buyers for the buildings, which are in a block that he says is ripe for development. In fact, Quarnstrom says he’s received inquiries about the land.

If they can find a buyer, Quarnstrom says the next step requiring approval at the annual town meeting would the purchase of a new property to hold township offices. It’s not yet clear whether the township would buy an existing building or building a new one. But he says he would like a facilities that is more accessible to those with disabilities than the current ones are.

“We currently have stairs into our building" ,said Quarnstrom, referring to the township supervisor's office, a former residence at 603 S. Randolph. “And if we need to meet in an ADA accessible area, our employees have to walk across the street to the assessor’s office. They do have a wheelchair ramp there. And so, ADA accessibility is primary.”

Quarnstrom would also like a township facility that has some sort of community space that could be used for the expansion of township programs involving the public.

Quarnstrom says the township there are no plans for buying a specific property at this time, nor have there been talks with a specific buyer for the current township properties. But he says City of Champaign Township has received inquiries about their properties, and that township board (which is also the Champaign City Council) has endorsed the concept of selling them at a study session.  But it can’t be done without approval from township voters. Quarnstrom says he hopes those voters will turn out for the annual town meeting to take up the issue.

“It’s frankly a really great opportunity to experience a level of local government that most people don’t really know about, that don’t get to experience”, said Quarnstrom, “and that the electors ---- the voters of the City of Champaign Township actually do get to dictate directly where the township’s going.”

Voters participating in annual town meetings in Illinois are referred to as “electors”.

This won’t be the first time that City of Champaign Township voters have considered a possible sale of township buildings. Voters authorized a sale at a lightly attended special town meeting in 2009, but an initial show of interest by a buyer failed to result in any formal bids on the properties.

If electors at the town meeting vote to allow a sale, it would still take action by the township board to approve a sale to a specific buyer. In City of Champaign Township, the Champaign City Council acts as the township board.

The City of Champaign Township annual town meeting begins at 7 PM, Tuesday evening, April 14th at the city council chambers at the Champaign City Building. Voting is opened to all registered voters in the township, which covers the city of Champaign, except for a portion of southwest Champaign.

Other townships across Illinois will also be holding their annual town meetings Tuesday evening. State law requires that the meetings be held on the 2nd Tuesday in April at or after 6 in the evening.

Story source: WILL