MORRISON – The city has no master plan for downtown revitalization, and it needs one, its business advisory group says.
The city did a comprehensive plan in 2002 that was supposed to be updated in 5 to 10 years, but that hasn’t happened, City Administrator and group member Jim Wise said at the panel’s meeting last week.
Among other things, Main Street is deteriorating and will need extensive repairs in the next 2 to 3 years. In fact, more than 80 percent of the city’s roads are cracking and getting to the “alligator skin” stage, where the cracks interlock, Wise said.
Some of the city’s sidewalks have no curbs, and some of the streets have a squared drop-off as high as 12 inches, he said. The city needs to make sidewalks more accessible by rounding off curbs and installing railings and steps at appropriate places, he added.
Problems with streets and curbs create problems for businesses, Wise said. “We don’t want to create impediments to commerce, but right now a lot of streetscapes are doing just that.”
Funding also must be found for the work. Several years ago, Morrison applied for Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grants, but because the city did not have certified local government status from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, it could apply only for up to $100,000.
The city now has the required status, so it may apply for up to $2 million to pay for public infrastructure, Wise said.
When the next round of ITEP grants are available, he will ask the City Council’s permission to submit a grant application to obtain enough money to do “a great deal of public infrastructure work,” Wise said.
But grant applications will not completely achieve the city’s goals, Wise said, which is why a new plan is needed.
He did submit a 10-point plan for community sustainability to the City Council in June, Wise said. It suggested reviewing Morrison’s comprehensive plan, getting citizen input, creating a downtown plan, and establishing a TIF district, among other things.
Board member Bob Vaughn said the advisory group should consider Wise’s plan and use it as a “good first step” when making its own, larger plan.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Vaughn said.
When the group next meets on Feb. 7, Director of Public Works Gary Tresenriter will be asked to attend to discuss a plan for downtown revitalization.
Tresenriter will be asked to review the public infrastructure needs of the business district, which is bordered by Lincolnway to the north, Market Street to the south, Orange Street to the west and Clinton Street to the east.
The business advisory group then will outline what the business district needs, and it will be up to the council how the city adopts and fulfills that plan, Wise said.
The Morrison Business Advisory Group meets at 8 a.m. Feb. 7 at Dunlap Lodge, 227 E. Main St.
As the meeting nears, the agenda will be available at morrisonil.org.
City Administrator Jim Wise is the group's contact; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-772-7657.