At the Jacksonville Main Street annual meeting today the organization unveiled a new vision for growing downtown — as a place to visit, live, work and play. The vision includes safety for pedestrians and a bike friendly environment to attract people downtown.

As a place to live, downtown communities are a preferred location for retiring boomers and young professionals. Both of these demographic groups are attracted to areas that are pedestrian and bike friendly. As a place to play, designs that attract people on foot and on bike to visit downtown.

Projects like a recreational trail along the Town Brook. Connecting to downtown, say, along Sandy Street with a pocket park where Illinois Power is removing their stream-side substation. A parkway where people can transverse the city, from Foreman Grove/Pioneer Woods to Wal-Mart. A project that not only brings people downtown, but spreads revitalization energy out into the rest of the city.

Projects like a bike route along State Street. Folks from Springfield can come in via Old State Road and cross a pedestrian/bicycle bridge (replacing the old State Street bridge). Traverse the city hitting sights like ISVI, Lonzeratti’s, MacMurray College, downtown, architecture on West State Street, Duncan Park, ISD, on Lafayette past Eisenhower School. West of town take Liberty Road and parallel the old Northern Cross Route (the first railroad west of the Alleghenies) to cross the river at Meredosia and to points west.

The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation seeks to work with community leaders and interested parties to plan these projects through local governments.

Written by Steve Warmowski