In late 2020 when the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln asked community members to submit ideas for the betterment of their community, we weren't sure what reaction we would get. It turned out that hundreds of ideas, big and small, were submitted. In the spring of 2021, we weren't sure what would happen with the dozens of projects in The Next 10 Report, which set forth a Community Visioning Plan for Greater Springfield. Now, as the world around us is looking more normal and familiar to the pre-Covid world, I swell with pride for what our community is accomplishing and what our new normal may be as we look ahead.
The Community Foundation has just released The Next 10 Progress Report (see full report at TN10.org) and progress abounds. Here are a few highlights:
After decades of neglect, the former Pillsbury plant on Springfield's northeast side is being cleaned up for redevelopment. A newly established nonprofit, Moving Pillsbury Forward, has taken ownership of the property, volunteers are devoting their time and treasure to clean up the site and this citizen-driven effort is attracting more financial resources to get the job done.
If you were at this year's State Fair, you probably saw many physical improvements already underway on roads and buildings that had been long neglected. As an initiative of The Next 10, a master planning process is now in full swing for our beloved fairgrounds. This plan will include recommendations on how to expand the usage of the fairgrounds as a year-round center for social and economic activity. With a clearer roadmap for the future of the fairgrounds, new possibilities for improvements and activities are sure to emerge.
A comprehensive development known as Community Access Project (CAP) 1908 has also made progress in improving the South Town neighborhood. Led by The Springfield Project and Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce, this project will support entrepreneurs and community activists to grow their businesses and improve our community. If you haven't driven by the corner of 11th and South Grand recently, go give it a look.
As you may have seen, construction cranes are looming over the State Capitol Complex and there's an awfully big hole in the ground north of the Stratton Building. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on renovations in and around the Capitol Building over the next few years. On the other side of downtown Springfield, you'll see more construction around the Sangamon County Complex as the new transportation hub is taking shape. I can't recall a time where so many public construction projects are happening downtown.
Dozens of agencies and community leaders have been hard at work on the development of a strategic plan to address homelessness. The plan, which is on the cusp of completion, will address how we can create solutions for the needs of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. The Community Foundation and many others in our community are committed to seeing the plan's recommendations brought to fruition by housing our fellow citizens who need our collective help.
There are more Next 10 projects on their own trajectories and paths, being led by project champions who just want to make our community better in all kinds of ways. I hope The Next 10 has shown that we do have the ability to get things done, especially when we get organized and work together. As we look ahead to these projects and others that we have not yet imagined, let's not stop. Let's keep going. Let's get these things done and figure out the next 10 projects and the next 10 after that.
John Stremsterfer is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln. To learn more about the Community Foundation, visit CFLL.org