PEORIA -- At the Jan. 23 news conference on converting the Kellar Branch rail line into a hike and bike trail. former Peoria mayor Jim Maloof made an eloquent plea for the trail to be built. He then sent the following letter to the Peoria City Council with copies to trail supporters:
RAIL/TRAiL - "ONE VOICE"
Thanks to Bruce Brown and Mayor Mark Allen of Peoria Heights, nearly 100 concerned supporters of the walking/biking trail attended a meeting at Vonachen's Old Place last week. Mayors, Park Board, Sheriffs office, Tri-County Planning, Springdale Cemetery, Vonachen's Junction and several other representatives of groups from Morton to Princeville attended.
Also attending were Mayor Ardis, Councilman Montelongo, Spain, Gulley, Senator Koehler and representatives of Aaron Schock, John Morris, Jim McConoughey, Senator Durbin and Senator Obama's office.
It was a very strong positive meeting ail in favor of the walking/biking trail and the economic/lifestyle benefits it would have on our area and its future.
During the meeting, a map was presented showing approved traits being used by thousands of people. They were marked in red. See enclosed picture.
Missing was the largest area which was marked in gray and this was our own City of Peoria which has so much to gain. This was brought to the attention of The (Surface) Transportation Board when the presentation was made and they ruled against removing the rails.
We were advised years ago in making an inter-community wide appeal for a project, to speak with ONE VOICE. And so I appeal to our City Council Members, to once again consider & resolution supporting The Walking/Biking Trail. This being a Presidential Election year, we were told this would be an excellent time to take such action. All of Central Illinois would be marked in red in support of the trail speaking as ONE VOICE.
PROS AND CONS
Yes, a new committee has been formed to study side by side trails. This has been done by The Park board. Result? Practically impossible and millions of dollars in costs, A waste of time.
Just the one new development at Junction City, approximately $25,000,000 would bring over ½ million in real estate taxes in addition to increased sales tax dollars. Many more will follow.
Already millions of dollars in new development has taken place near the trail north of Route 6.
Similar plans are already on the drawing board in Peoria Heights. They are our neighbor and we should support their growth and activity.
A possible solution would be to offer the 2 railroads and The Lumber Company a cash settlement over a one year or a ten year plane from the new revenue coming in.
Finally, I speak to you asking for "leadership with courage", Yes, there are objectors and they should be heard. They have been heard for 10 years and there has been no improvement. There have always been objectors. We, during my terms, listened and then made judgment based on what's best for the entire community.
At your next meeting, 2 members from the prevailing side can ask for the matter to be brought up for consideration. I hope there will be "leadership of courage" that says "enough is enough" and we the City Council are voting in the best interest of the entire/area community and say YES, we support the walking/biking trail.
NOTE: Maloof also included a map, which is not reproduced here.
Congratulations to Maloof for speaking truth to power!