WHEN members of the Quincy Next Strategic Plan met for the first time this week they discovered that lots of progress already has been made toward ideas meant to grow the community.
Out of about 100 initiatives identified by a large group of local stakeholders and development experts, and adopted by the Quincy City Council in March, efforts on 30 projects are either fully implemented or underway.
The Quincy Neighborhood Housing Reinvestment Revolving Loan Program, approved by the City Council on Monday, was one of the success stories. It is meant to help rehabilitate and revitalize aging neighborhoods.
The Great River Economic Development Foundation reported an effort with the Peoria area to create a foreign trade zone.
Quincy put out a request for proposals this week to market the city's barge dock and boost river traffic enough to support creation of a port. In another river-related effort, the city, county and Quincy Park District are looking at the possibility of a pier at the foot of Hampshire Street to allow large excursion boats to dock.
Members of the committee were surprised and pleased to see so much progress on a strategic plan that's meant to help the community add jobs, increase the population and improve Quincy's quality of life over the next few decades. They also noted that most of the work so far has been done with private dollars or previously identified funding.
So far there's been little appetite on the City Council to identify new revenue for major efforts. There has even been some resistance against work that's already been vetted by aldermen and included in the city budget.
A way-finding effort that calls for signs around the periphery of the central business district to help direct travelers to attractions and facilities could come before a council for a vote next week. We believe this issue is one that alderman should give further consideration before making a final decision. The signs are funded in the city budget and in the Tax Increment Finance District budget. The TIF dollars also have been divided between different types of projects, under the direction of the City Council.
Former Quincy Mayor C. David Nuessen, who is a member of the Quincy Next panel, believes that aldermen "want to do the right thing" but sometimes hear only from those who oppose things. Nuessen believes there's a large but often silent group within Quincy that has supported efforts such as the $89 million construction of new schools and the $25 million ballot issue to build a law enforcement center and jail.
"When you look around and you see these new schools and attend a couple of dedications at the schools and you hear the people and the enthusiasm about what's going on in this community, it's at a level that I haven't witnessed in my time in Quincy, and I was born and raised here," Nuessen said.
Enthusiasm is a fitting reaction to new public facilities and several business expansions underway within Quincy. The Quincy Next Strategic Plan has the potential to keep the city growing and thriving. Let's give this road map for the future more than lip service.