Left Justified: The fablulous Five

Left Justified: The fablulous Five

By Stanley Campbell

By Stanley Campbell

The Fabulous Five

This week, we present the local Sierra Club’s “Fabulous Five” selections of positive urban development. The area has great examples that reduce traffic, respect the environment and strengthen community. Here’s “smart growth” at its best:

1. Nygren Wetland Preserve – a project developed by the Natural Land Institute in northwest Winnebago County that reclaims old farmland and returns it to the prairie from whence it came. This will be the jewel for our area that will attract not only families for generations to come, but possibly whooping cranes as well as many other species of wildlife.

2. The Morrissey Building, downtown Rockford, shows us the possibilities of combining residential with commercial and may be the catalyst for revitalizing downtown. We, of course, love the Coronado Theatre restoration.

3. The Stockholm Inn has been credited by a number of nominators with giving new life to the Charles and 20th Street neighborhood. The reinvigoration of the whole Plaza by SwedishAmerican Hospital and others is a great way of restoring life in the city.

4. The Holland House on Walnut Street is a great example of a church group turning a blight into a promise. Six new apartments grace a building that was overcrowded before restoration. It was rehabbed by Rockford New Hope, a new faith-based housing group in town.

5. Guyer & Enichen Building, 2601 Reid Farm Road, Rockford. New construction can protect the environment. Albeit a new building on the east side, but one which protects the floodplain of Keith Creek by the design of this law office, and enhances the creek to create a backwater wetland just north of busy Spring Creek Road. The development to the east at Spring Creek and Perryville also maintained the floodway along the creek, which improves water quality and protects from downstream flooding.

Honorable mentions: Winnebago County’s effort of merging the four departments: Planning, Zoning, Building and Mapping. Shouldn’t all the municipalities do that? What better way to let the right hand know what the left is doing?

The City of Rockford’s rehab projects, and their attempts to bring together the disparate (and desperate) planning authorities of the area.

The projects of Zion Development Corporation in the Seventh Street and Broadway neighborhoods are also singled out for commendation. Using a combination of government, private and church funding sources, their projects are putting their geography where their theology is. Even more fantastic, Rockford Habitat for Humanity builds new housing on the west side without any government help.

The Sierra Club will still receive nominations for next year’s Earth Day, and will update the list periodically with new suggestions and apologies.

Nominations for the Nasty Nine or Fab Five are still being accepted at Blackhawk Sierra Club, P.O. Box 8976, Rockford, IL 61126 or at http://illinois.sierraclub.org/blackhawk/ For more information, call Stanley Campbell at (815) 964-7111.

Blackhawk Sierra Club thanks the following for their support (please reserve any blame for us): Sinnissippi Audubon Society, Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee, Rockford Urban Ministries, Social Responsibilities Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Great Harvest Bread Company and Natural Land Institute.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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