On May 8, the Peoria City Council approved the ordinance creating the Peoria Medical and Technology District. The district is created, among other things, to attract and retain academic centers of excellence, health institutions, and emerging high technology enterprises while promoting the stabilization and development of residential and commercial areas. Enhancing the existing historic districts is another key objective. The Peoria Medical and Technology District Commission was created to carry out the purposes enumerated in the ordinance.
On September 10, the commission held its first meeting, concentrating on organizational issues. Members of the commission are:
- Michael Bryant, Methodist Medical Center, chair
- Karla Dennhardt, West Bluff Council, vice chair
- William Engelbrecht, Bradley University, treasurer
- Peter Johnsen, Peoria Next
- Richard Lister, M.D., University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria
- James Moore, OSF Healthcare System
- Tasha Morris, University East Neighborhood Association
- Steve Shostrom, Running Central
- Kathleen Teegarden, Flora-Ellis Neighborhood Association, secretary
- Marcella Teplitz, Councilwoman, ex-officio, non-voting
- Stephen VanWinkle, Interim City Manager, ex-officio, non-voting
The initial objective of the commission is to prepare a comprehensive master plan that will outline the vision for more than 700 acres of the district. In addition to the neighborhood associations that have committed, the West Main Street Corridor is the area where the vision of Peoria NEXT will be realized. The master plan will also include strategies and action steps to ultimately achieve that vision.
Over the next few months, the focus of the commission will be on preparing a request for qualification (RFQ) that will be submitted to consultants throughout the country who have expertise in developing both medical and technology districts and neighborhoods in the context of an urban framework. The principles of the Heart of Illinois Plan will be followed as a part of our ordinance requirements. Following the RFQ, the commission will issue a request for proposal (RFP) to select the consultant to assist us in developing the master plan. It’s our intention to begin a formal planning process in early 2004, with completion by summer 2004.
During the next several months, we’re asking the neighborhood associations to begin their own planning process. We’d like them to create their vision for their neighborhoods, such as parks, bike paths, or neighborhood centers. If the neighborhood associations have some informal plan already identified before the formal planning process begins, we believe this will lead to a more deliberate pace and better discussions toward completing a final master plan in a timely fashion.
If the planning process goes well, the commission should be recommending its master plan to the City Council in summer 2004.
I particularly would like to thank the neighborhood associations that have chosen to participate in the commission. As I’ve toured the neighborhoods, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and support for Peoria NEXT and economic development along the West Main Street Corridor. I’m encouraged by their progressive thinking and their desire to make Main Street the main street of Peoria again.
What else would one expect from good neighbors? IBI