I no longer live in Dixon, but I’ll forever consider it home. As someone who’s been both a resident and a visitor, I have a uniquely valuable perspective about how $40 million should be used.
First, pay off the city’s debts so Dixon, unlike any other city in the state, owes no one a cent. Then, $10 million to restore Memorial Pool to its former glory, putting smiles on children’s faces by giving them a public pool. (Set aside $2 million in an interest-bearing account, allocated only for pool maintenance.)
Spend $2 million to expand the riverfront project; $2 million for downtown streetscape; and $2 million to widen Bloody Gulch Road. The money also should be used to help the Dixon Historic Theatre, Dixon Botanical Garden, Next Picture Show, Veterans Park and construction of Reagan as lifeguard at Lowell Park, as well as blacktop the park’s roads. Boost tourism with a Chicago ad campaign “Dixon and the Rock River – Chicagoland’s new playground.” Also, bring in more large concerts by helping Dixon Main Street.
Use the rest to bring fruition to dreams so many of us have. Create bike baths so Dixon can truly be “the most bike friendly city in Northwest Illinois.” Create an arts incubator by turning poorly utilized building space into artists’ lofts for talented artists. Construct an exhibit recognizing former Dixon grads who’ve made an impact on the world’s art community.
Spending money on new toys for municipal departments would be foolish, but these other changes will drastically increase the quality of life for Dixon residents, and foster an environment of immense economic prosperity.
Mayor Burke and commissioners, you have the rare opportunity to make Dixon an amazing small city in Illinois, leaving your footprint in every corner of your city, and to leave behind what can aptly be called a legacy. Good luck. Have fun.