River District invites public to discuss downtown

River District Association, a downtown advocacy group, invites the public to attend open and free meetings regarding the recently completed Framework Plan Implementation Study.

Sponsors of the Implementation Study are the City of Rockford, Rockford Park District, SwedishAmerican Health System, Centre Events, YMCA of Rock River Valley, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and River District Association.

Meetings will be on the following dates:

Wednesday, June 6, 6:30-8 p.m., at the YMCA Log Lodge, 200 Y Blvd.—Review of Ingersoll Building/ComEd area development possibilities, talk about potential whitewater park, review implementation strategies and funding sources; comments and questions from attendees will be taken.

Saturday, June 9, starting at 11 a.m. at The King’s Table Café, 308 W. State St. (inside Stewart Square)—Take a walk with River District representatives to see the potential whitewater park site. The group will meet at King’s Table, look at drawings, talk about the project, and leave about 11:30 a.m. to walk to the proposed location for the whitewater park.

Tuesday, June 12, 6:30-8 p.m. at Rockford Public Library Auditorium, 215 N. Wyman St. (enter on Mulberry)—Review of Davis Park and potential of further development ideas for the park and surrounding area; review implementation strategies and funding sources, comments and questions from attendees.

In 2003, River District Association launched the River District Framework Plan (prepared by Smith Group JJR in association with Real Estate Planning Group and William J. Johannes Architects). It has been used since as a reference guide for development of Rockford’s downtown River District neighborhood by city, county and Park District officials, as well as private developers. It is a broad framework that identifies development opportunities, core revitalization principles, objectives and six “catalytic areas” of development.

The Framework Plan Implementation Study, prepared by Farr Associates, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc., Fish Transportation Group, Goodman Williams Group, and Scott Balice Strategies, reviews the core principles and objectives of the Framework Plan, outlines prioritization criteria for each of the six catalytic areas and identifies implementation strategies and funding sources.

The two catalytic areas that rose to the top in the prioritization process were Davis Park and Ingersoll Building/ComEd. The study states, “Redevelopment on these sites is believed to have the most impact in the shortest term, and will ultimately help generate more interest and activity in the other locations.”

Scott Long, River District board vice president and design committee chairman during the study process, said, “The River District Design Committee members went through a thorough process of discussing the prioritization criteria for each catalytic area as well, and the results were the same as the consultant team. Committee members were able to participate in the study process and give feedback to the consultants, too.”

River District Association’s Executive Director Kim Wheeler says: “It’s important to engage the public at this point before we move forward in asking our local government agencies to formally adopt this document for downtown development. Quite a while back, the consultants spoke with property and business owners in the area. Now, we want to get feedback from the general public.”

Wheeler also says: “Our position from the very beginning of this process in 2002 has been that the Framework Plan is an organic document that will continue to be tweaked and updated through the years as needed. The Implementation Study is the newest update, and we will update it again after the upcoming public meetings.”

The mission of River District Association is to promote a growing, thriving, prosperous business and residential community in Rockford’s downtown neighborhood, River District.

from the June 6-12, 2007, issue

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