As we anticipate the financial resources that are certain to come to Illinois
and, we hope, to the capital city, let us not forget where some of our greatest
needs are: in the heart of our city.
If the intention of the stimulus package is to spur growth, employment opportunities and economic development, we ought to make sure that whatever is done has an effect on the everyday lives of people and on the neighborhoods where they reside.
The inner city of Springfield has long been neglected and is in desperate need of attention. While several groups and organizations have fought long and hard to help, and have delivered great projects, much more could and should be done to transform the east and near north sides of the city.
I applaud the efforts of many groups: TSP HOPE, Nehemiah, Old Neighborhood Rehab, Habitat for Humanity, PitGam and Abundant Faith Christian Center, just to name a few, for taking a bite out of depressed areas and adding a glimmer of hope where there was none. However we must recognize that they have only been allowed to scratch the surface of what could be and should be accomplished.
All of these organizations have done a good job on individual projects that have improved the quality of life in the areas that they work. It is time to increase the level of support afforded to these groups, based on their success and proven track record. It is time to embark upon a comprehensive redevelopment plan that includes the collective efforts of all.
We should come together as a cohesive unit to support the efforts of neighborhood groups such as Enos Park, Mather Welles, C. Lee Carey, Spears, Bunn Park and others. Working with neighborhoods, we can use stimulus funds to support infrastructure, safety, housing and business development plans.
If we desire to see the Medical District initiative be a success, then the neighborhood surrounding it needs to be stimulated. If we want to see the city’s efforts with South Town really pay dividends, then the neighborhood surrounding it needs to be stimulated. To quote a good man by the name of Sam Nichols, “We need the perfect storm to happen in order to have a major impact in these areas.” The federal stimulus package is the closest thing we have seen in years to a perfect storm approaching. Let’s bring stimulus to our neighborhoods.Timothy Rowles is executive director of The Springfield Project and works with the Q5 redevelopment initiative of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.