Seven different parties have officially expressed interest in building a casino in Danville, according to Mayor Rickey Wiiliams.

City officials sent out solicitations of interest to about 50 casino owners and developers across the country, Williams said, and asked for indication of interest by July 10. Now, the parties have until July 31 to submit applications detailing their specific proposals, which will be considered by a steering committee that includes Williams, Alderman Mike Puhr and community leaders.

Alderman Steve Foster inquired about the selection process at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, telling the mayor that although he and other aldermen aren’t part of the steering committee, they’re getting questions and phone calls about it.

Foster also questioned the mayor about the preferred site, located along Interstate 74 near the Indiana border and Lynch Road. Some have wondered why a downtown location wasn’t given top billing, he added.

Williams said that because of the tight timeline to submit a final casino development package to the Illinois Gaming Board — about 100 days from now — a site has to be shovel-ready.

But he added that if an applicant has another viable site all wrapped up, the steering committee could consider it.

Williams said that the committee will review the applications submitted by the July 31 deadline, choose the top few to interview and make a recommendation to the city council for final approval. There will also be a public hearing on the final proposal.

Last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gambling-expansion bill that regulates sports betting, allows for existing riverboat casinos to become land-based and authorizes six new casinos — in Danville, Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, the south Cook County suburbs and Williamson County in southern Illinois.

In other council news, aldermen approved spending $98,795 for safety upgrades to the railroad crossing on Griffin Street, near Garfield Park.

It was there where Deon Jackson, 13, was killed two years ago after being struck by a train while riding his bicycle.

CSX Transportation will install sidewalk crossings over the tracks, as well as stop arms across the traffic lanes and the sidewalks.