On May 19 and 20, the Peoria Medical and Technology District Commission hosted its first public planning forum at the Franklin School. Over those two days, residents from the district's nine neighborhood associations outlined for the consultants, Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT), their ideas and dreams for their future, as well as for each other. In addition, a number of residents from other neighborhoods not part of the district attended the meeting and provided some insightful input into the planning process.
Prior to the meeting, WRT and the city sent out homework assignments to the neighborhood associations. Each neighborhood brought a strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat analysis, as well as their vision for their neighborhood.
It was very clear that the neighborhoods took this assignment seriously and came prepared. Ideas and comments from the neighborhoods were very thoughtful-and some very progressive. The neighborhoods are clearly proud of what they've done to date-the housing stock, beautiful tree-lined streets, and their commitment to provide an environment where people will want to live, work, and play-but also understand full well there's still more to do.
They outlined very clearly their weaknesses and had a frank discussion about the impact. The primary concern at the May 19 commission meeting earlier in the day was openly discussed: District 150. What was truly surprising was the pride the neighborhoods feel for Franklin School and its principal, Valda Shipp. They've literally adopted the Franklin School and are very proud that the school has recently been removed from the State of Illinois' Watch list. They understand it's in their best interest to support Franklin School and are committed to its success as a component of a successful district. In addition, the residents want the neighborhoods to be a showcase for Peoria. They want the neighborhoods surrounding Bradley University and the other institutions to be appealing to future homebuyers. The neighborhoods aren't asking for favors from real estate agents. Through their plans and dreams, they'll build an environment agents will be proud to show, even if homebuyers aren't looking for a home in this area.
In my five years in Peoria, I'm amazed at the progress the neighborhoods in the district-as well as Moss-Bradley, Uplands, and Arbor District-have made. With the removal of power lines and addition of other amenities, West Main Street looks entirely different. If you haven't been in the neighborhoods or down West Main Street for a while, you should drive around; you, too, will be amazed at its progress. It may be a good idea to see the area now because in five years, I'm convinced you won't recognize it. And unless you drive around today, you won't appreciate how Peoria's past and future have come together. IBI