Herald-Whig View

Time's right for public input on riverfront plan

Posted: Dec. 8, 2019 12:40 am

THREE votes on consecutive days this week could help start to usher in a new vision for Quincy's Mississippi riverfront -- or continue to leave the city's greatest natural resource woefully underdeveloped.

The Quincy City Council on Monday, the Adams County Board on Tuesday and the Quincy Park Board on Wednesday will vote on a riverfront master plan intergovernmental agreement that spells out a rigorous and thorough planning process to document and gauge the community's priorities for the riverfront. This will help guide the Illinois Department of Transportation as plans are made for the construction of the Quincy Memorial Bridge replacement at York Street.

At this moment, there is no plan that even begins to address the issues that will rise from the building of the new bridge and demolition of the Memorial Bridge. Our elected leaders now have a chance to change that.

Development of the riverfront is a key component of the Quincy Next strategic plan, adopted by the City Council last year. This plan was developed with financial support from the city, county and Park Board, as well as several other influential community and economic organizations, showing a wide range of support. Now, it is time to move forward with this key component.

The goal of the agreement between the three bodies this week is to seek public input and build a consensus for a strategy to make development on the riverfront happen from Broadway to Edgewater Park and from Third Street to the river, while addressing the incline that separates the river from downtown. It also would seek ideas to transform the riverfront into an area of daily residential and commercial activity.

Of course, there will be some cost associated with this plan. The agreement calls for $400,000 to be spent on the plan, with $250,000 coming from Adams County and $150,000 coming from the city.

The city's portion would come from existing TIF funds and would mean no additional cost to taxpayers. The county's portion would come from $512,000 in state revolving loan funds the city helped the county recapture in April. This is money the county would otherwise not have and that the board agreed to spend in the city's TIF districts. This moment is a prime example of opportunity meeting ability, and there will be no better time for the city, county and Park Board to act.

No, $400,000 is not a small amount of money, but for perspective, it represents less than one-half of 1% of the estimated cost of building the new bridge.

Approving this agreement now -- an investment in the city's future -- has the potential to open a new chapter in the city's history and would show that members of each of the governmental bodies are of the visionary sort who helped build our great city over the years.

Failing to act could cost far more and offer IDOT little to no local input in planning for the new bridge at York Street.

We strongly urge the Quincy City Council, Adams County Board and Quincy Park District to continue the spirit of cooperation we have seen with the construction and planning of the new Adams County Law Enforcement Center and surrounding area and vote to approve the riverfront master plan agreement.