Friends of Ziock urges cooperation

Editor’s note: The following was a presentation given to the Rockford City Council Monday, May 13, by Marge Bevers, also speaking for Gary Anderson, who could not be present, for the Friends of Ziock.

We represent a citizens group — Friends of Ziock — that has been deeply engaged for the past three years in efforts to encourage the renovation of historic properties and to help rebuild the local tax base. Our members would like to welcome the new and returning aldermen. We recognize the significance of this moment as an opportunity to forge new — and enhance existing — public-private partnerships.

As we near the successful conclusion of our work with the city and a developer to revitalize the Ziock Building, we are planning future efforts. We look forward to working with this council and the administration, sharing information and opportunities that will assist us to reach mutual goals. It is only with such cooperation that we can be successful — not only in the context of this relationship — but as a community. It is, in fact, our responsibility to work together, but also to actively seek additional information from one another lest we miss opportunities.

Further, it’s not lost on your constituents that half of this council is new just as two key positions are unfilled in the department responsible to refill city coffers through business growth and the return of properties to the tax rolls. We hope your voices will be heard by the administration as they prepare to hire key leaders in Community Development.

We urge you to work with the administration to assure that these two key staff positions are filled by the best-qualified candidates. They must have broad experience in municipal or real estate development — including the ability to consummate a deal — in addition to strong skill sets in sales and marketing as well as project management. If we are to compete with other communities, we need results-oriented leadership.

The success of our community depends on a strong economy with a solid tax base. To reach this goal will require genuine collaboration between the administration, the council, individual citizens, and volunteer groups around Rockford. Friends of Ziock has played a key role in seeking a developer for the Ziock Building. We continue to work with potential developers for other historic Rockford properties. We need strong leadership with an emphasis on action and support. Your constituents are counting on your success.

From the May 22-28, 2013, issue

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