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Don’t overlook city’s successes

‘Big picture’ shows Dixon is progressing

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke
Dixon Mayor Jim Burke

I want to thank the Telegraph for providing me a guest column to respond to the editorial “No mistake about it. Dixon system broke” (July 20).

It is oftentimes easy for all of us to focus on immediate problems and not see the forest for the trees. All of us are well aware of the setbacks to the city and to our civic pride.

Let us look at the big picture and some of the significant events that have occurred in Dixon through the efforts of hundreds of governmental, community and business leaders, citizen volunteers, and foremost, the support of the taxpayers.

Events that occurred during the management of municipal government by the so-called broken commission form:

• Sewer and water mains extended to cornfields beyond I-88 in 1968

• Three business parks developed

• Sewer extended to Raynor Door Co.

• Financial incentives to build Comfort Inn-Pizza Hut

• 220 hotel rooms total with three hotels

• Encouraged and persuaded Walmart to build supercenter

• Completed Master Plan for I-88 Business District

• $10 million invested in stores next to Walmart

• 17 industrial plants constructed with city incentives

• Financial incentives to rehab Nachusa House and Post House

• Lee-Ogle Transportation Center constructed

• Remodeled City Hall

• $7 million state of the art Public Safety Building

• One of the best professionally trained police and fire departments in Northern Illinois with high-tech equipment

• Constructed expandable state of the art $18 million wastewater treatment plant

• Highest quality drinking water ($14 million cost to remediate)

• New Peoria and Galena Avenue bridges

• $6 million Heritage Crossing Riverfront Development and Reagan Statue

• Established Dixon Tourism and Welcome Center

• Streetscape Galena Avenue Third Street to Boyd Street

• One of the best Main Street programs in state

• Dixon Petunia Festival founded

• Town Square Center constructed with TIF funds

• Riverfront TIF created resulting in Riverfront Condominiums

• Expansion of Walgreen Field

• Overlook Gardens Town Home Development

• Central Business District a national historic site

• Dedicated well-trained city employees

• 90 percent occupancy in Central Business District

• Incentives to construct Idle Oaks Subdivision (more than 100 homes)

• Downtown is an entertainment mecca for arts, dining, festival, social events

• Incentives to Ken Nelson, one of the largest auto dealerships in Northern Illinois

• Low-interest facade loan program for downtown

• A designated Tree City USA community

• Multimillion-dollar separation of storm-sanitary sewers

• Recognized internationally by Global Mayors Forum for environmental accomplishments

• Comprehensive Master Plan for city of Dixon

• Tollbooths and fees removed at Dixon I-88 ramps

• Construction of widely recognized Veterans Memorial Park

• Flower basket beautification of downtown and riverfront

• Hosted Mumford & Sons concert, attracting more than 15,000 to city

• Largest financial contributor Lee County Industrial Development Corp. and proactive partner

• Known as a developer-friendly city

• $230 million in construction permits issued since 2002

• 175 citizen volunteers serving on more than 20 boards

• Infrastructure in place to serve 1,000 acres for industrial development

• Obtained several million dollars in state and federal grants for capital improvements

• Reagan Home and South Central School preserved and restored

• Three shopping centers and thriving downtown

• Historic Dixon Theatre Center for performing arts restored

• The Next Picture Show fine arts center established – city incentives

• 60 residential blocks resurfaced in 2012-13

In short, the city is on the way to recovery as follows:

• In the process of hiring city administrator and HR

• New financial and IT directors hired

• Transformed Finance Department and hired additional personnel

• Appointed Governmental Task Force to study various forms of government and make recommendation

• Passed balanced budget for fiscal year 2013-14

• Will Streetscape Central Business District in 2014

• Will complete long-range strategic plan in 2014

In summary, I submit to you, dear readers and taxpayers, in spite of Rita Crundwell, Dixon is one of the most progressive cities in Illinois, and one we can be proud to call home.

Jim Burke is in his fourth term as mayor of Dixon.

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