Morrissey announces vision for urban planning, other issues

Larry Morrissey, independent candidate for Mayor of Rockford, outlined his specific plans and priorities for the city’s urban planning, transportation, energy and the environment. “Rockford needs jobs. To get those jobs, we must have land use and transportation plans and economic development plans that make us energy efficient, attractive, and environmentally responsible,” he said.

Morrissey also stated that when elected, he would appoint a Director of Energy & Environment from existing City staff who would report directly to the Mayor and focus and implement efforts to move Rockford forward in these key areas.

Morrissey pointed out that today, there are two cities—the “New Rockford” where investment and jobs seem to be going, and an “Old Rockford” where there is a cluster of the most violent crime, poverty and lack of investment.

“That dichotomy is due in large part to decades of poor land use and transportation planning, and poor investment strategies, which have increased social and financial burdens to all of our citizens,” he said. “As a result of our misplaced policies and priorities, we waste energy, we damage our environment, we ‘sprawl’ out of control, and we lose out on positive revenue and growth opportunities.”

Environment/Energy/Urban Planning:

Morrissey admonished the current administration’s abundance of talk and lack of action. “We are a city that has been planned, studied and task-forced to death,” he said. “Good talk means nothing if it does not impact decisions when it comes time to spend the money.”

Reasonable investments in core infrastructure: Morrissey reiterated the essential three R’s of Rockford’s infrastructure: Roads, Rail and River.

“Internally, through great planning and community building, Rockford’s roads and pathways and our public transportation need to connect us internally and externally,” he said. “Why are the city and county developing dozens of miles of recreational paths at the city edge or outside of Rockford when we still have not completed and connected the Rock River Riverwalk?”

Morrissey’s plans include:

Make existing roadways more attractive and more bicycle and pedestrian friendly;

Bring passenger rail service to Rockford with a realistic goal of having that in place within five years; the rail connection should also include a direct stop at the Rockford airport;

Design and build a connected Rock River Riverwalk that will connect existing assets along our river and provide for new private development;

Require that Rockford’s proposed capital expenditures be reviewed against our adopted plans (and not made in isolation).

Changes in zoning and planning: Appropriate, focused and comprehensive planning on zoning uses will increase core development and decrease urban sprawl that is currently negatively impacting our community.

Changes will include the adoption of new landscaping and beautification standards for public roads and right-of-ways.

Organizing and staffing city staff: Morrissey would assign a specific staff member as “Director of Energy & Environment” to work jointly in several areas traditionally handled by public works, planning, and economic development offices. This position would: increase energy efficiency in municipal facilities; increase efficiency of overall city design and public transportation; promote conservation and beautification; promote the area as a hub for manufacturing renewable energy technologies; and outreach to other local governmental agencies, volunteers and non-profit groups to coordinate local efforts in this area.

“This plan I am promoting is very different from the current administration’s efforts,” said Morrissey. “The ‘Green Communities Coordinator’ recently announced by the current administration is vague and poorly defined. From what has been stated publicly about this position, there will be at least two bosses of the position since it is partly going to be paid by the City and partly by the Park District. That position will have no apparent authority to create and demand new standards for landscaping and beautification. It has all the makings of yet another ‘public relations’ position since it will have no real power within City Hall.

“A ‘green community’ is a standard, not a job. Once we have enacted the new standards, which I am calling for, all of our staff at public works must embrace those high standards of excellence in designing and maintaining a more efficient and attractive community,” he said.

For info on the Morrissey campaign and volunteer opportunities, call the campaign at (815) 968-MORC (6672).

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!