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From our archives: Big plans and their impact on Sterling

What we thought: 25 years ago

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials and articles from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following items appeared in the Gazette on April 4 and 10, 1989.

A day of plans: A West Side Story

Last Thursday started out like any other day. The temperatures did not warm up as might have been anticipated or desired, but the pace of events certainly did. Two momentous ones for the future of Sterling, in fact. One in the afternoon. One in the evening.

It was, in fact, a day of plans. A day of decisions.

Both of the events portended change for the citizens of Sterling: one within the business community and, in the end, the community-at-large; the other upon the educational establishment and hundreds of residents. Both were the harbingers of significant change for many of our fellows in the form of disruption, dislocation, distress, disappointment – even dismay. Not to mention personal sacrifice.

“I’m real happy,” said City Manager Rich Mays about the first happening.

It was one on which he, members of the Sterling Business Development Council, and others have been working and concentrating for weeks. It involves a master plan, the center of which is construction of a 17-acre retail center in downtown Sterling. Where? Downtown Sterling, that’s where.

The idea is to build a 200,000-sq.-ft. shopping complex along downtown Illinois Route 2. ...

The unveiling of the ambitious endeavor was the result of about nine months of study and research by a high-powered city planning firm hired by Sterling. Now comes the difficult part: acquisition of the individual properties included in the development area, location of a developer, finalizing the financial arrangements, relocation planning by the affected businesses – all of that. ...

The second plan unveiled on Thursday also will change the image of the city – a key portion of it, anyway.

It was the decision by the [Sterling] Community Unit School District #5 school board to close Wallace School. The decision was long in coming and even now some of those affected – mainly the parents of Wallace pupils – as suggested in today’s Daily Gazette, have not laid down and played dead just yet. The fight appears to be on. ...

Some have pointed out what they see as an irony in these two events. No connection, says Mays.

“We want to draw people to shop, not to live,” he explains.

It’s just the beginning on both fronts, and there’s still a long way to go before both plans are fully implemented.

So stay tuned. – April 10, 1989

Gaming no cure

for money woes

The quicker we put the kibosh on that romantic, harebrained idea to legalize riverboat gambling on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, the better off we will be.

Such legislation is being considered by the respective legislatures in Illinois and Iowa – with a bill expected to be introduced this week by state Sen. Denny Jacobs of Moline to allow such gambling on the Illinois side of the Mississippi.

The purported objective is to lure tourists to the area with their bucks and, of course, to enhance the resultant tax revenues that would be generated.

Why is it that states always are looking for the quick fix, the easy way out, in looking for new revenues, even when it means embracing what have to be considered questionable activities?

Gambling, arguably and by definition, is just such a questionable activity. It usually hurts those who need to be hurt the least and who should be helped the most. And that is where the greatest peril lies. In two words: false hopes.

Remember, for example, all those grandiose prospects and promises that were made when Illinois instituted the Lottery and how we all took it for granted that its proceeds would, once and for all, keep our school and educational system stable and sufficient?

That was one false hope. We have been reaping the folly of that con job ever since. ... – April 4, 1989

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