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Moline neighborhoods active, inactive and somewhere in the middle
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Moline neighborhoods active, inactive and somewhere in the middle

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Overlook Historic Neighborhood Association

Placed early it the fall, this sign represents the Overlook Historic Neighborhood in Moline, which extends from 7th to 19th streets and 8th and 12th avenues, making it one of the largest. It includes the so-called 'Millionaire's Row,' where the John Deere Mansion occupies the bluff along 12th Street.

It is both a neighborhood sign and a sign of the times.

Moline has a long a history of active neighborhood associations. From Uptown to Olde Towne to Floriciente, groups of neighbors have come together over the years to improve upon their surroundings.

But times, people, developments and priorities have changed.

For a variety of reasons, some neighborhood associations are thriving while others languish.

The Overlook Historic Neighborhood Association is somewhere in the middle.

Its boundaries are 7th to 19th streets and 8th to 12th avenues. Monthly meetings once drew about 40 people. Today, about 20 neighbors are active.

“We’re one of the larger neighborhood associations, but we’ve been less active, partly because of COVID,” longtime member Jean Edmunds said. “As far as our activity level, we’re an older group.

“Many of our members live in the house where they grew up. Some have died; some have left the area. We have some young people, but it’s hard to get young volunteers.

“It takes a personal invitation.”

Sometimes, it takes a crisis.

“Moving into these areas, people don’t always know there’s an association,” said K.J. Whitley, Moline’s community development program manager. “Sometimes a crime will bring them together.”

Something as minor as graffiti or garage break-ins can motivate members. Other times, it’s a desire to simply spruce things up.

“Murals are becoming very popular, especially since we now have a public arts board,” said Whitley, who represents the city in monthly meetings with about 10 neighborhood groups and associations. “Sometimes, they’d like signs, or maybe it’s landscaping or sidewalk repairs or street lights.”

At a recent meeting of the East End Neighborhood Group, she said, about 40 people attended because they wanted to hear plans for the long-vacant McKinley School.

At the Overlook Historic Neighborhood, a new sign recently was placed along 12th Street, alongside the John Deere Mansion.

“The sign serves as the ‘entrance’ into that neighborhood. It doesn’t specifically have anything to do with the Deere mansion, but it is obviously a significant part of the area,” said Rodd Schick, municipal services general manager for Moline.

Neighbors/members of the group, though small, continue to work with the city on cleanups, doing projects at Velie Park, such as placing bat houses, and they hang holiday decorations.

The recently retired director of Moline Community Development, Jayne O’Brien, was active with most of the city’s neighborhood groups and associations.

“Events, whether positive or negative, create unity, and the momentum keeps going,” O’Brien said. “It can be hard to engage younger people, and we have to figure out the buy-in for that generation; what’s in it for them?

“We also have some really cool neighborhoods, where younger generations are doing some really great things. Mercado is one good example.”

The mapping and boundaries for the collection of neighborhoods currently are being reworked, Whitley said, and the city is becoming increasingly involved.

“We’re looking to grow these relationships,” she said of the city. “Areas like Stephens Park and Floriciente are very active.

“We want everyone to be involved, and we have a small pot of money set aside for projects.”

To see current maps and a list of neighborhood groups and associations, visit the city’s website at Moline.il.us.

To learn about or join the Overlook neighborhood, contact Edmunds at jdedmunds2@aol.com

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