August 5, 2020
A small community in Champaign County is now home to a groundbreaking project unique in the state of Illinois – a project that could attract new businesses and revitalize infrastructure. Recently completed in the Village of Royal, officials are hopeful that the Downtown Contained Waste/Sewer System Project will help the community of 300 residents grow business and lead the way for other rural municipalities within the county and state to do the same.
The Village initiated the project in early 2019 when a vacated building was purchased by an individual who wanted to establish a restaurant/pub. However, due to an obsolete waste/sewer system where multiple buildings shared one tank, progress was not possible. The Village worked with the Champaign County Health Department and Fehr Graham engineers on a solution developed at Purdue University – a contained waste/sewer system for the downtown business area that meets new Health Department regulations.
“Our grain elevator makes us a farming hub, while our multiple churches and generations of families make us a community rich in small-town values,” says Kimberly Busboom, a Trustee on the Royal Village Board. “But we were faced with issues of growth and the challenges of keeping up with regulations familiar to many communities.” She says Royal wanted to maintain its existing businesses, attract new businesses, and support redevelopment of the downtown area but risked losing interest from prospective owners due to much-needed upgrades to the village infrastructure.
Busboom went to Washington, D.C, and Springfield, Illinois, to campaign for project funding with the Champaign County First Group and many community leaders including RPC Chief Executive Officer Dalitso Sulamoyo. She also worked on securing a low-interest loan from Champaign County RPC’s Intermediary Relending Program with Kathy Larson, the RPC’s Economic Development Specialist.
The Downtown Contained Waste/Sewer System Project received letters of support from State Senator Scott Bennett, the Champaign County Public Health Department, State Representative Mike Marron, and Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, who stated that funding for the project was “essential for the growth of the Village of Royal and for modification of their current infrastructure to meet the emerging needs and demographic changes.”
The RPC low-interest, long-term loan was approved in the Fall of 2019 and the project was completed in June 2020, making Royal a pioneering community in contained waste/sewer systems for Champaign County as well as the State of Illinois. Having an approved way for businesses to comply with the rules governing waste and sewage disposal means the Village of Royal can update and revitalize its downtown business district, which is essential for the community’s progress. The Village owns the system, maintains it, and develops utility fees for businesses to use it, helping Royal keep in step with its sister communities of Ogden, Penfield, Gifford, St. Joseph, and Homer.
“Royal continues to welcome many young families with children as our school district flourishes as one of the best in the county,” Busboom stated. “Now the Downtown Contained Waste/Sewer System Project will help us promote business, increase revenues, and maintain the infrastructure and vibrancy of our Village, as well as that of Champaign County. It’s an investment in our future.”
The unique filtering system processes waste and disperses purified water. Busboom says the Village is excited in anticipation of a new business that is projected to soon occupy a space in the downtown business district.