Council OKs Trail East Variances; NIOT Annual Report Follows Year Of 'Challenge And Change' | WGLT

Council OKs Trail East Variances; NIOT Annual Report Follows Year Of 'Challenge And Change'

Feb 18, 2019

The Normal Town Council granted developer Bush Construction several variances on preliminary design plans for the Trail East building on Uptown Circle.

Council members had the final say on the variances approved by the Uptown Design Review Commission last week.

The approved variances include a new design for a stair tower and extending the typical 5-foot setback to 10 feet to avoid buried water infrastructure on College Avenue. The developer may also use concrete board, normally restricted as an accent material, extensively on the building’s fourth and fifth floors.

Normal Mayor Chris Koos suggested the developer make a few more tweaks to the design, including incorporating glass and lighting into the all-brick stair tower.

Bryce Henderson, vice president of project development at Bush, said the project team at architectural firm Farnsworth Group is already working to incorporate the recommendations into its designs.

Henderson said the council will have other opportunities to review building plans in the coming months.

“We’re nowhere near ready for construction-level documents on design for both interior or exterior,” he said.

The design of a proposed walkway from East Beaufort Street to the parking lot still needs fleshed out. Questions surrounding the condition of a wall at 110 E. Beaufort and the demolition of 108 E. Beaufort will have to be answered before Bush can present a final design.

Not In Our Town 2018 Annual Report

Not In Our Town member Mike Matejka says while gun violence last year shocked and hurt Bloomington-Normal residents, the conversations that followed helped open the community’s eyes and ears to its youth.

Not In Our Town member Mike Matejka presented the group’s first-ever annual report to the Normal Town Council on Monday night.
Credit Breanna Grow / WGLT

Matejka presented the group’s first-ever annual report to the Town Council on Monday night.

Local high schoolers last year organized walkouts as part of the national March for Our Lives movement sparked by the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and held a rally in Downtown Bloomington coinciding with similar events across the nation.

NIOT held a youth summit with United Way of McLean County last August, along with smaller listening sessions at the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal.

“A very different picture of the community emerges when talking to some of the low-income and at-risk youth,” he said of the forums. “This is not Pleasantville, USA, in their eyes.”

He said local youth expressed feelings of neglect and a lack of support from the greater community, particularly with employment issues. Matejka said there’s a disconnect between young people in need of jobs and local businesses who say they have jobs available.

He said conversations with high school students revealed there are several factors at play. Part of the solution may be teaching youth basic job skills. Teens’ home lives can also worsen the problem.

“Once you start unravelling this, you learn so many other things that are going on in people’s lives that need attention,” he said.

Including young voices continues to be a major focus for the group, whose Not In Our Schools (NIOS) program added three middle schools in District 87 and Unit 5 last year. Students ranging from grade school to high school participate in activities aimed at combating bullying and harassment.

Matejka said even young students grapple with the same issues that play out on a national scale. “Gender identity, race, sexism ... they are very aware of those things,” he said.

Matejka said NIOS not only offers students an outlet to speak up, but also empowers them to come up with their own solutions, “sometimes identifying situations that may be below the radar of teachers and administrators.”

The group’s report also highlights efforts to address issues related to religious faith and arts and culture across the twin cities.

In other business, the council also approved the use of over $520,000 of Motor Fuel Tax Funds for various street resurfacing projects beginning this spring. Streets up for resurfacing include:  

  • School Street from Mulberry to Willow  
  • Broadway from Vernon to Phoenix  
  • Vernon Avenue from Linden to Grandview  
  • College Avenue from Beech to Blair  
  • College Avenue from Kingsley to School  
  • Shelbourne Drive from School to Constitution Trail Central Branch  
  • Gregory Street from Main to Adelaide

Staff expect the estimated $2.5 million project to wrap up late this August.

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