North End: preserve local businesses

What makes North End Commons such a great place? If someone were to ask me, my answer would be, the small independently-owned businesses and the historical culture. How would you feel if the city made some changes that ruined these elements of our neighborhood? Do you know what the city is talking about?

In 2004, the city contracted to revitalize the North Main and Auburn area, which is a very exciting project that could bring countless opportunities. What price will the city pay to revitalize our neighborhood? Would they sacrifice the small independently-owned businesses to fix up our community? What is the point in revitalizing our area if they are going to take away everything there is to love? Do we want commercial strip malls, franchise restaurants and a Starbucks right in our front yard? Do we want to see huge corporations taking over our community? Folks, this is exactly what could happen unless we speak up to our City council.

The city has come up with some prospective ideas for enhancing traffic flow through Auburn and North Main.

1. Do as little as possible to properties to enhance traffic flow.

2. Use a minimal number of properties to install a roundabout circle.

3. Remove structures on the southeast and northwest corners of Main and Auburn for turn lanes.

4. Remove structures on the west side of Main both north and south of Auburn.

I understand that you see no plans or ideas for a Starbucks or a commercial strip mall, but that is what could happen if they tear down the small, independently-owned businesses in our area. The city says they will rebuild what they tear down farther back from the street so our small businesses would have the opportunity to reopen. These small businesses will not survive after being closed for months! They would be torn down and never come back. The city would then rebuild commercial buildings probably resembling a strip mall, and there you have it, folks, the beginning of another East State Street.

There are two meetings scheduled to discuss these alternatives, and any other new options for revitalizing North Main and Auburn.

Oct. 20 in the Walker School Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m. This meeting will be held by the city. Please call me to RSVP so I can ensure there is enough seating for all us: 815-997-1349.

Oct. 27 at The North End Neighborhood Coffee Bar, 1408 N. Main St. This meeting will be held by the North End Commons Business Association to further discuss the presentation.

Let’s pull together and show the city and these small business owners how much we care about what happens to this area. I am encouraging everyone who has a voice to help me maintain our historical neighborhood culture by keeping these businesses from extinction. Please help me keep The Tin Whistle, The North End Neighborhood Coffee Bar, The Waffle Inn, Altamore, Table 13 and other independently owned businesses in our neighborhood open!

Nancy Mandell is a Rockford resident.

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