The Public Square

Leslie Cooperband, owner of Prairie Fruits Farm, on the harm that would be done by a proposed extens

Leslie Cooperband, owner of Prairie Fruits Farm, on the harm that would be done by a proposed extension of Olympian Drive in Urbana

Many residents of Champaign Urbana likely have heard about the renewed plans for extending Olympian Drive eastward from where it ends east of Market Street to connect with Highway 45 in Urbana. The road is just the beginning of a larger long-range plan to rezone the region for light industry.

If implemented, many irreplaceable community benefits will be lost. We threaten potential for near-community local foods production which has proven benefits for the local economy, public health, and quality of life. We threaten several designated post Civil War Centennial farms that will be cut in two, increasing the risk that farm families who have farmed this land for as much as seven generations will have to stop farming. We lose the tranquil beauty of a green place minutes from town for bike touring and passive public enjoyment. We pave over the black prairie soils considered the best in the world. We bisect the Saline Branch wildlife corridor, which deer, coyotes, mink, weasels, ducks, muskrat, and an amazing array of other native animals use as an uninterrupted pathway north of Urbana. Finally, we lose the opportunity to gain a unique reputation for sustainability and thoughtful consideration of quality of life for current inhabitants and for the entire Champaign county community. With all the recent discussions about how to make our cities and county more sustainable, this outmoded type of build it and they will come development runs completely counter to local government sustainability goals.

If you agree that we need to find alternatives to constructing Olympian Drive, please sign our electronic petition at

Please contact the mayors and city council members of the cities of Urbana and Champaign as well as elected state and federal officials to let them know you want sustainable alternatives.