THE PREVIOUS decade in many ways has been a difficult one for Quincy and the surrounding area, as the region’s retail base has shrunk, leaving municipalities and cities in a revenue crunch.
We choose to not focus on these difficulties, however, and turn our gaze upon the future. Opportunities for growth exist, and they offer hope for a shining economic future. We are blessed with a strong manufacturing base and world-class medical facilities. All-new elementary schools in Quincy stand as a testament to what can happen when residents choose to move forward instead of standing still.
Accentuating these positives has been a key tool for those marketing the region and working in the field of economic development. There is one resource, however, that has been woefully underutilized. Quincy’s riverfront is in desperate need of development and renovation. Most importantly, it has lacked a vision to bring together public coffers and private enterprise to unify efforts and turn the riverfront into a beacon that draws locals and visitors alike to the region’s most prominent natural resource.
The Riverfront Master Plan, developed by a steering committee that comprised members of the three stakeholder bodies – the city of Quincy, Quincy Park District and Adams County – working with a team of consultants, is a bold, forward-looking vision. While we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we believe it could be the most important investment vehicle for the region in decades, serving as a catalyst that will help propel the regional economy forward.
But before we get there, our public officials must take the simple step of agreeing this plan is the vision we need. The Adams County Board already has done this. Monday night, the Quincy City Council will hear the third reading of an ordinance to amend the city’s comprehensive plan to include the riverfront document. The Park District will take up the measure next month.
It’s important to remember the plan already has been widely vetted by the public. Three surveys saw more than 3,000 local participants sharing their thoughts to develop this plan, and multiple online town halls gave countless residents the opportunity to weigh in. If there is a hidden benefit to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could very well be that more people than would typically be expected have been part of this process. And the steering committee has reached out to business owners for their thoughts, securing buy-in from key stakeholders.
It’s important, too, to consider this approval would commit exactly zero public dollars toward any of the projects. A yes vote simply is an acknowledgement of a common vision that serves as a path forward. Critically, it would allow planners to begin seeking grants, investment and other means to make this plan a reality.
Given the upcoming Quincy Bay restoration and the potential for a new Memorial Bridge on the horizon, the timing could not be more perfect. Up and down the continent’s largest river, communities just like ours have been developing their riverfronts, showing this type of project can be accomplished. The question is, do we have the vision to make it happen? While visitors, economic growth and ultimately new residents are drawn to communities with vibrant riverfronts, will Quincy be among them? Or will we let this opportunity slip past?
By approving this Riverfront Master Plan, the Adams County Board took a crucial first step toward the future. We commend them for this, and we urge members of the Quincy City Council and Park Board to do the same.