As we move forward in 2003, we’ll face many challenges that will define the community we want to be in the years ahead. We’ll be faced with many difficult decisions and must work together to discover solutions.
Two ongoing, comprehensive planning initiatives can lead to a fundamental transformation of our region and our city: the Greater Peoria Vision 2020 and the Heart of Peoria Plan.
As part of Vision 2020, we released the Preliminary Strategic Plan for the City in January. To support this plan, I appointed Jim Despain to lead the Neighborhood and City Services Task Force. The Task Force will shine a spotlight on every corner of city government. In a few months, they will present proposals to the city manager and city council. Their input should allow us to substantially improve the effectiveness and efficiency of city government and increase the city’s financial resources.
The Heart of Peoria Plan is the result of an intensive, 10-day planning charrette, led by Andres Duany of DPZ and involving more than 1,000 Peorians. The ambitious strategies for public and private development and revitalization of the heart of our city are being reviewed for financial feasibility and fiscal impact. They include increased living and more pedestrian-friendly downtown and major development projects such as Lakeview Regional Museum and an expanded Peoria Civic Center.
A Vision 2020 task force on Youth, Education, and Learning is working with Dr. Kay Royster to develop ways to support District 150 and other educational entities. Other task forces include Leisure and Tourism, and Economic Development and Transportation.
Major changes will take place in 2003 amongst city staff. City Manager Michael McKnight will retire March 31 after a 30-year career with the City of Peoria. Several members of our senior staff, including department heads, are expected to take early retirement.
The new political climate in both Springfield and Washington will require that we work hand in hand with our bipartisan legislative delegation. U.S. Congressman Ray LaHood, State Senators George Shadid and Dale Risinger, and State Representatives Dave Leitch and Ricca Slone will continue their strong representation of our city’s interests to meet growing regional needs.
All of the innovative and exciting projects undertaken by the city will need dedicated and motivated leadership from the citizens, staff, and council. Although we’re facing many challenges, we’ve opened doorways for incredible opportunities.
The state of the city is good in Peoria. With the help of hard working people who care about their community, the City of Peoria will become even better. IBI