PEORIA, IL -- Two meetings to let citizens help plan the city's riverfront, once the concrete platform is demolished, has produced a mixed effort.
Some of the ideas that citizens came up with are brilliant and fun. They can be seen on the website planpeoria.com.
But the site itself is clunky. I'm not sure I got signed in correctly, as every time I try to 'like' an idea, I have to repeat filling in the blanks. And that includes a birthday, which is bait for identity theft. It's too time-consuming to bother with.
After ideas are submitted for the next two weeks, the city plans to set up a committee to select plans for the 2.5 acre site. The concrete platform, which the city says is damaged (then why is it still hosting restaurants?), is to be demolished.
The site is in a floodplain, so floods regularly. At the most recent flood last spring the city spent $800,000 on sand bags to protect the historic train station building there, Pat Sullivan, a wired-in downtown guy, said. Apparently the flooding has damaged the concrete platform. So anything to replace it must be able to withstand floods.
Sullivan suggested a terrace to stop the floods. Might work.
Other ideas, some of which would cost mega-bucks, ranged from an observation tower like the one in Peoria Heights, to a fishing dock. A vendor at the farmer's market held there each summer said a concrete platform is important. Winter events could include an ice skating rink and a heated platform for a holiday market.
Most of the ideas would not leave any green space, and that's OK since Riverfront Park nearby has lovely green space, if those awful apartments can be kept out of the park. Sadly, a large display of the riverfront showed them, already constructed.
Other weaknesses, besides the clunky website: no minorities were present at either public session, even though many live nearby in Taft Homes and elsewhere. Will there be any outreach to them?
And just which insiders will be on the committee? "I want to be in the room where it happens," sings a character in the musical Hamilton.
And will the committee really reflect public opinion? If that happens, then the apartments in Riverfront Park would be history, as the public hates them. So, despite the two meetings, city officials likely will do what they want to anyway. Or what their chief backers want.
-- Elaine Hopkins