On February 1, the Peoria Medical and Technology District Commission and the Neighborhood Advisory Council met in a policy session with Mayor Ransburg and the Peoria City Council. We presented the initial draft of the District's Comprehensive Master Plan, which includes:
- An overview of each neighborhood, its strengths and weaknesses, and its vision for the future.
- The vision of the Med/Tech Corridor.
- The design guidelines for the neighborhoods and Med/Tech Corridor.
- The economic considerations for the Incubator and Med/Tech Corridor.
- The implementation strategies, with cost estimates to implement the plan over a five-year period.
Our consultants-Richard Huffman of Wallace, Roberts & Todd, and Vernon George of Hammer, Siler, George-outlined the design standards and economic considerations. This information had been reviewed previously in two public forums, as well as at various commission meetings.
The most significant theme highlighted with individual city council members is the desire of the commission and neighborhoods to re-establish parking on West Main Street. Initially, on-street parking would be primarily from Sheridan to Bourland, but it would extend to University Street eventually. It's critical for the district to be pedestrian in nature and urban in character. Realistically, however, on-street parking won't be an opportunity for at least a couple of years while Interstate 74 construction continues. During this time, it does allow the commission to perform the necessary traffic studies and address concerns about traffic diverting through the neighborhoods.
The second potential issue that certainly would have caused controversy would be the implementation of a tax increment financing (TIF) mechanism. The commission isn't recommending a TIF. We're hopeful the strong public and private investment presently occurring will make the implementation of a TIF unnecessary. Instead, we're recommending enhancing the current enterprise zone as one initiative to encourage further significant development along the Med/Tech Corridor.
The commission conducted two additional public forums to gather input: on February 5 in the UICOMP Auditorium and February 7 at Franklin Edison School. The return of parking on Main Street was the topic that generated the most discussion. Curiously, the discussion came mostly from people who live outside the district and who will be minimally, if at all, impacted.
Our goal is to return to the city council March 1 for final approval of the Comprehensive Master Plan. The commission will prioritize projects and refine its initial implementation steps and cost estimates to present a clear framework to the council as to how the plan will be implemented.
As the management guru, Peter Drucker, stated: "No real plan is worth anything until it degenerates into real work." The commission and Neighborhood Advisory Council are ready to get down to real work. The Med/Tech Commission began its plan in March 2004. If we receive approval March 1, the commission, along with city staff and the Neighborhood Council, will have completed a Comprehensive Master Plan for 770 acres within 12 months-an amazing accomplishment. IBI