The Renaissance Park Commission will start in 2007 with a new team. Several new members: Cindy Fischer, Assistant Superintendent for District 150 Schools, will replace Dr. Peter Johnsen as the representative from Peoria NEXT; Sue Wozniak, Chief Operating Officer at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, will replace Jim Moore, President of OSF Healthcare and Dr. Rodney Lorenz, Regional Dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, will replace Dr. Richard Lister. The original nine members of the Commission were together for essentially three years and worked very closely to formulate the current Comprehensive Master Plan for the Renaissance Park District. We appreciate all of the time, energy and effort that Dr. Johnsen, Dr. Lister and Mr. Moore gave to the Commission in the initial phase that helped create the foundation from which the Renaissance Park District will continue to grow and develop in years to come.

We are particularly disappointed to learn that Dr. Lister and his wife, Ande, will be leaving Peoria as he has accepted a position at the University of Florida—a position he said he “couldn’t say no to.” Dr. Lister’s contribution to this community, as well as to Peoria NEXT, is inspirational. His love of Peoria and his desire to make Peoria a better community, educationally, culturally and economically, cannot be measured. We will miss him and wish him well.

One of the advantages of adding new team members is the new perspective and new view they will bring as we implement our objectives in 2007. The major objective for the Commission will be consideration of returning parking along designated areas of Main Street, as approved in the Comprehensive Master Plan. Discussion of parking on Main Street was deferred until the I-74 construction was completed. In addition, we felt we should allow a six-month period for normal traffic patterns to develop after I-74 was fully operational. We planned for the parking discussion to occur in 2007, given the strict deadlines of IDOT. Because IDOT has met its deadline, we are now on target for serious dialogue that would need to take place about parking on Main Street. There will likely be several forums taking place in 2007 to engage the neighborhoods and surrounding areas regarding the benefits of parking on Main Street as well as a cost/benefit analysis.

Looking into 2007, institutionally, we are excited about the opening of the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center, continued development of the UICOMP campus and continued positive fundraising for the future campus of Bradley University, as well as continued enhancement of the medical campuses of both Methodist and OSF.

We continue to see Columbia Terrace’s plans for improvement and neighborhoods obtaining grants and other funding opportunities in order to upgrade their areas. The energy that began several years ago still appears to be going strong.

In 2007 and 2008, the synergy between development along Main Street and enhancement of the neighborhoods will begin to materialize for the benefit of both. Have a happy and healthy New Year! IBI