City returning roads it made one-way to control drug activity back to original form

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City returning roads it made one-way to control drug activity back to original form


Bristol Place, Policing


Photo (available at original site: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/patrick-wade/2010-03-06/redevelopment-two-way-street.html) by: Vanda Bidwell/The News Gazette
The Rev. Eugene Barnes of the Metanoia Centers stands by a one-way sign that the city of Champaign will soon remove from the corner of Clock and Bellefontaine streets as part of a redevelopment plan for the Bristol Place neighborhood just south of Interstate 74.


Patrick Wade




7 March 2010

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Sat, 03/06/2010 - 2:00am | Patrick Wade
CHAMPAIGN – After more than 11 years of restriction, one-way traffic in the Bristol Place neighborhood will become two-way Tuesday, but those involved say it is more than just the city taking down a few street signs.

"I think it gives the community again confidence that, no, we haven't been neglected," the Rev. Eugene Barnes said.

The traffic change will follow a ribbon-cutting ceremony and is informally part of a bigger plan to redevelop the neighborhood just south of Interstate 74.

The streets in the neighborhood – Roper, Bellefontaine, Garwood and Clock streets – were changed to one-way traffic in 1998, when police determined that would be a better way to manage the drug activity in the neighborhood, community development specialist Greg Skaggs said.

"The one-ways have been up there ever since, and there's been different times the neighborhood has approached the city to get them removed," Skaggs said.

At the time, the city also bought and demolished the troublesome Green Apartments at the corner of Bellefontaine and Market streets, which Barnes said was the hub of much of the drug activity and prostitution.

"Once we got those old apartments out, that presence tried to remain here," Barnes said. "After a while, people who have other intentions, they decided to move on or move some place else."

And since then, it has been like "night and day," Barnes said.

"There was a time when, just at the corner where we're located, you could find anywhere from 15 to 20 individuals just standing in the street, and today we don't have any of that," Barnes said. "The community itself, it rallied around a lot of issues."

Barnes has been working with the neighborhood for 12 years, much of that time out of the Metanoia Centers, 1313 N. Clock St. The nonprofit group provides resources for "people whose communities are in economic and social crises," according to its Web site.

Barnes said he instituted a "weed-and-seed" program, walking the neighborhood and getting to know its inhabitants.

"We felt that if we were going to be working with this community, then we needed a physical presence in the community," Barnes said.

Skaggs said the city still has some work to do developing the neighborhood. While Tuesday's traffic change provides some initial relief and is a milestone to mark improvements, some issues still remain.

"We want it to be a healthy neighborhood that is not known for the negatives like the blight," Skaggs said.

City officials are developing an ink-and-paper plan, intended to remove blight and promote mixed-income development.

Mixed-income residency "better reflects the city in general, where people live together in different settings," Skaggs said. "Then you have a better appreciation for one another, it's not so divisive."

Barnes hopes to see some in-fill in the neighborhood to replace sites where blighted structures have been demolished.

"We would like to see a neighborhood like this go to home ownership," Barnes said.

Barnes said he believes Tuesday's traffic change is the right direction.

"The neighborhood needed to be turned back to normalcy," he said.




Patrick Wade, "City returning roads it made one-way to control drug activity back to original form," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #179, http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/179 (accessed November 30, 2021).

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