The year 2003 is a pivotal year in the history of Peoria. Over the past 18 months, key planning initiatives have been undertaken. The City of Peoria has undertaken the Greater Peoria Vision 20/20, the visioning process that’s expected to be completed by September 2003. As part of that initiative, the Heart of Illinois Downtown Development plan, as developed by Duane Plater Zyberk & Associates, will have been reviewed and, hopefully, a consensus reached. The Heart of Illinois plan is an integral part of the Greater Peoria Vision 20/20.
The Lakeview Regional Museum planning process, with respect to its final destination in downtown Peoria and capital campaign analysis, should be completed and incorporated as part of the Heart of Illinois plan. The District 150 strategic planning process is expected to be completed by July 2003. The WorkForce Development issue, as enumerated in Dr. Richard Judy’s study, is being addressed. Peoria Next will be entering its second year of existence. Plans for a research/technology park—and possibly the designation of a medical district—should be finalized in 2003.
The Peoria Civic Federation is studying the transportation issues and has communicated its support of the ring road and Chicago to Peoria Highway. The Federation has a committee analyzing the buyout of Illinois American Water Company. The Economic Development Council of Central Illinois has recently completed its strategic agenda for 2003.
Significantly impacting the above initiatives is the declining economy, resulting in deficits and reduced funding sources from the state, federal, and local municipalities. The weak economy is also causing cutbacks in local business. The recent relocation of Lincoln Office Supply from Peoria to Morton continues to indicate the increasing tax base in Peoria caused by loss of business and jobs will continue to decay the core of Peoria.
There are very committed and talented people involved in these planning initiatives who’re working in the best interests of Peoria and the region.
At some point in 2003 all of these projects, plans, and initiatives must be pulled together in a coordinated fashion with clear action steps and clear responsibilities of how, when, and what will be achieved and who will be expected to achieve them. It will need to be clearly and concisely communicated to every aspect of our community so people will get behind these projects and support them. It will be critical that the Peoria Civic Federation and Illinois River Valley Council of Government support this plan to ensure success. I suspect EDC President Jim McConoughey will be one of the key individuals responsible for implementing the action steps of the final plan.
The year 2003 is when the rubber meets the road for Peoria. Thanks to everyone involved in these projects. It’s time we make things happen in 2003 as we move forward for the benefit of the future of Peoria. IBI