Buses run on Greek Row as talks continue

By Deneen Smith

Huskie Buses will continue to run in north Greek Row for the time being while DeKalb officials continue discussions on the issue with NIU student groups.

At the request of DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow, the DeKalb City Council decided Monday not to take action on the city staff’s recommendations to restrict bus traffic in the area.

“There has been an honest, good faith effort (between the city and the student groups). I hope that the council will let us continue in that vein and take no action tonight,” Sparrow said Monday.

The staff report stated, “In order to preserve the pavement for other north Greek Row traffic and without a commitment to fund street reconstruction in the next three years, it is suggested that north Greek Row bus traffic be limited.”

The staff report also stated that if funding commitments cannot be made by the regular council meeting on July 13, the staff recommends restriction of Huskie Bus traffic on Blackhawk Drive north from Hillcrest Drive to Ridge Drive, on Ridge east from Hillcrest to Normal Road and on Normal north from Hillcrest to Ridge. These restrictions would not apply to buses running between 6 p.m. to midnight daily.

“If there is any possible way to keep the buses running and provide that service, the city will do it,” Sparrow said.

To keep the buses running in north Greek Row, the city will have to find funding for the street reconstruction. Possible funding sources include federal funding specifically earmarked for urban roads impacted by mass transit and the possibility of a special taxing district in the Greek Row area which would, in effect, place the burden of funding the repairs of the streets upon residents in the area.

Student Association President Jim Fischer said there have been a number of informal meetings between city officials and members of the SA, the Inter-Fraternity Council and the Mass Transit Board to discuss sources of funding.

“The discussions we have had (with the city) are leading to something, but it still hasn’t been proven to me that a special tax district is the answer. But, being the resourceful people we are, we will find the funding,” Fischer said.

Meanwhile, Phase I reconstruction of Greek Row streets will begin this summer. The council voted Monday to award the contract for the project to Elliot and Wood of DeKalb who made the low bid on the street repairs of $525,031.22. The repairs will be funded with a $700,000 Build Illinois Grant.