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A Publication of WTVP

The beautification of the West Main Street corridor is a shining example of the positive results that can occur when there's commitment and collaboration between the public and private sectors. This is an area that was unattractive and was once referred to by Bradley University President Dr. David Broski, when he initially came to Peoria in 2000, as an area that looked "seedy." This is an excellent showcase for what's possible in our community with a lot of dedication and perseverance.

The West Main Street area is not only a catalyst, but it's where the seeds for our economic future have been sown. It's also an area for which a beautification effort has been initiated.

West Main Street property owners were assessed an amount per linear foot of frontage to help pay for the curbs and sidewalks to be replaced, the street to be re-paved, and ornamental lighting to be installed. For Phase I, property owners were assessed $211,140. For Phase II, property owners were assessed $124,982. In addition to the assessment, the city will pay an estimated total of $1,400,000 for both phases of the project.

It took a number of years and a lot of effort by the West Main Business Group, in conjunction with the West Bluff Council and Bradley University, to remove the overhead wires from Main Street. Sen. George Shadid obtained a $500,000 grant from the State of Illinois for this portion of the project.

The installation of the ornamental flower baskets on the light poles was the icing on the cake. Funds for these baskets were allocated from the landscaping budget of the special assessment. The planting and maintenance of the baskets was contracted to the Peoria Park District. It's interesting that something as miniscule-in the scope of the project-as the hanging baskets, are having a tremendous effect in making the businesses in the neighborhood feel proud and special. A big thank you to Bonnie Noble and the Peoria Park Board for working cooperatively with the City of Peoria in making these baskets absolutely gorgeous.

Second District Council Member Marcella Teplitz has worked tirelessly on this effort. She, along with her predecessor, Camille Gibson, understood the impact that could be made to their district if these improvements were made.

There's been an immediate spin-off in that Michael Bryant, president of Methodist Health Services and chairman of the Medical Technology Commission, has had Methodist pay for landscaping Hamilton Boulevard near Methodist Hospital. In these tough economic times for government funding, it's appreciated when businesses and other institutions step up to offer assistance with city beautification. Often, huge investment dollars aren't required, but the impact is significant.

Additionally, the West Main Street beautification project has generated interest from other neighborhoods that would like to know how something like this could be done in their areas.

Take a trip down West Main Street to see the transformation of an aging street to an inviting boulevard. IBI

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