CHAMPAIGN -- A long-time city worker announced plans to retire in March. Steve Carter started as city manager in 1985. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera took a walk with him down memory lane.
During the past three decades, Steve Carter has helped transform the downtown area; from demolitions to renovations and so much more. With each step, memories and moments come to Carter's mind. When he started working here, one of the first projects he took on helped renovate downtown.
"Back in those days, you could roll a bowling ball down the sidewalk at night and not hit anything. It was just vacant," said Carter.
Carter says getting rid of the pedestrian mall helped open up the area.
"We ended up in a very nice spot I think."
A leader from the beginning, people who worked with Carter say he took action when he saw problems.
"Projects that take multiple phases, lots of money. You can't do those kinds of things without planning and Steve has really emphasized that, the need for goal-setting and planning with our city councils," said Craig Rost, who works as the deputy city manager for developments in Champaign.
"He remains a rock," said Champaign Mayor Don Gerard.
From downtown to campustown, Mayor Don Gerard says Carter helped bring big business to the university district, and opened the door to more development with the Boneyard Creek Project.
"He's a guy who you feel like, at the end of the day, you're happy to have him in your foxhole," said Gerard.
Even with a lot under his belt already, Carter's not done yet.
"Actually, I was one of the last people to stay in the downtown hotel back when we were looking at houses in 1985. The Howard Johnson's was still open barely," said Carter.
More improvements are on the way, like a new Hyatt Place Hotel being built a few blocks away from his downtown office.
"Yeah, there's still a lot more to do," said Gerard.
Carter says he'll be able to help the mayor and council find a good replacement, and even after leaving the city manager's office, he plans to stay right here with his family.
WCIA-3 News also spoke with one of the men who helped hand-pick Carter for his role as city manager. Dannel McCollum served three terms as mayor. He says he knew from the moment he interviewed Carter, he would get the job. McCollum says Carter had big plans for helping people in each of the city's neighborhoods grow and thrive together.
"Any one neighborhood fails, and the city will be the worse for it," said McCollum. "So while Steve was there, we established the Neighborhood Services Department with clearly that in mind to maintain the city."
McCollum says, even though the city needs to replace Carter's position, it will be difficult for anyone to follow in the city manager's footsteps since he's been such an influential member of the community for so long.
Original: 11:31 am
CHAMPAIGN -- A city leader is calling it quits. City Manager Steve Carter made the announcement during a closed session Tuesday night. He has served the community for more than 27-years.
He began his career in Champaign in 1985. Before that, he was the City Administrator in Moline for six years and Assistant City Manager in Sioux City, Iowa, for five years. His retire date is March 29, 2013.