ICON supported Dave Bakke when he wrote last week about the lack of pedestrian access at the new County Market on Carpenter and 2nd. But then he followed up with a second column that includes the kind of big-picture forward-thinking that is near and dear to our hearts. Instead of supporting a new liquor store at Springfield’s southern gateway (Chantilly Lace property at S5th & Stanford), how about planning ahead for a brighter future? We’re not into throwing stones (well, maybe for intentional bad guys), but we’re asking the same questions – where is the leadership in today’s Springfield – where are those who would build a Lake Springfield, CWLP or a Lincoln Library & Museum?
Here are a few excerpts and a link to the full story at SJ-R.com.
Where does Springfield go from here to make sure we get more compliments than complaints? Well, if I were dictator of Springfield, here is where I’d be spending my time:
- Dump that doomed Hunter Lake project, sell the farmland the city bought for it. Designate part of the proceeds to fund a second water source that would be the best alternative we can get done within five years.
- Build a new baseball stadium. No self-respecting minor league team is ever going to ever play in Lanphier Park.
- Redo or rebuild the Prairie Capital Convention Center. It was not designed correctly from the get-go. Current director Brian Oaks is the best we have had since Pat Fitzgerald was PCCC director some 25 years ago. But even he can only do so much.
- Throw in our lot with the Bloomington-Normal Regional Airport We should have done this when it was created. It’s not too late.
- Convince somebody to take a risk and put a movie theater downtown.
There is work being done on some of these initiatives, but it’s mostly talk and no results. If the city could show some results on any or all of this list, my how Springfield’s image would change.
These are huge initiatives. It will be scary. It means taking big risks, doing things differently from the way things have been done before and finding creative ways to fund projects to improve the quality of life in Springfield.
The big question is, is there anybody in power here who is savvy enough to do it? Other cities do it. Are their leaders that much smarter and more aggressive than ours? There are times when I think that’s exactly the case. But maybe it’s all about priorities.
These initiatives could keep Springfield’s mayor, aldermen and other city officials busy for years. Then, if city leaders could just get somewhere with those, it wouldn’t be so frustrating to have them spend so much time on leaf and branch pickup, regulating outdoor concerts, worrying about where city employees live or how to dispose of used cooking oil. Really, there are much bigger fish to fry.