Originally Posted Online: March 26, 2012, 9:45 pm
Last Updated: March 26, 2012, 10:40 pm

Residents, businesses back College Hill revitalization

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By Bill Mayeroff, bmayeroff@qconline.com

Photo: Kermit Stevenson
Photo: Bill Mayeroff
Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley reads the College Hill District Revitalization Plan during a public meeting to discuss the plan Monday, March 26. A group of business owners, property owners and residents in the area voted to forward the plan to the Rock Island city council.

About 40 residents, property owners and business owners in Rock Island's College Hill District voted Monday to send a plan to revitalize the area to the Rock Island city council.

Meeting at South Park Presbyterian Church, the group reviewed and offered feed back on the 40-page plan for the area.

Tim Friday, who owns commercial properties in the 4100 and 3800 blocks of 14th Avenue, said people need to be able to park in the area to make it a walkable business district. Bernard Klauer, general manager of Klauer Heating and Air Conditioning at 3009 14th Ave., agreed.

"Parking is the biggest issue we have up here," he said.

A main goal of the revitalization plan is to brand the College Hill District as a retail destination area. Bringing new businesses to the area is a key to this, the plan states.

"Vacant and underutilized properties tend to be poorly maintained and do not enhance the pedestrian atmosphere of College Hill District in terms of both appearance and foot traffic," the plan says. "High business density means an active street life, which reinforces the vitality of a business district."

Another major part of the plan is improving pedestrian access of the area.

"Walkable neighborhoods offer a wide range of destinations to meet the daily needs of residents and visitors," the plan said. "A walkable neighborhood allows for increased social interaction and the opportunity for a healthy lifestyle, as well as improving the environment."

From the start of Monday's meeting, Annette Zapolis, president of the College Hill District Organization, stressed that the plan being sent to the city council was merely a map intended to give city officials an idea of what the organization might want to do in the future and how the council might be involved.

"They're not taking action on anything," said Ms. Zapolis, who owns Cool Beanz Coffeehouse. "We want their support in these changes."

Kevin Hird, who owns the Sports Depot at 1316 30th St., said he likes that the plan talks about creating an identity for the area. He did, however, have some concerns.

"What's the cost going to be for the business owner?" he asked. "Somebody's got to pay for this along the way."

Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley attended the meeting but did not speak at it. Afterwards, he said any changes to the community need to be in the best interests of business and property owners, residents and Augustana College students.

Mr. Klauer said that, for any revitlaization effort to succeed, the whole community must be part of it.

"The business people -- we really need to get them involved," he said. "Everybody needs a vote."


On the Internet

To read the 40-page plan fopr Rock Island's College Hill District, visit www.rigov.org/index.aspx?NID=1270.