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Western Avenue Redevelopment Project Delayed AGAIN

To: Peoria City Council Members

D. Denise Jackson

From: D. Denise Jackson, SCUC Board Member, Agnes Crooks, SCUC Board Member, Gene Rayford, SCUC Board Member, Terry Burnside, SCUC Board Member, Glenda Williams, SCUC Board Member, Robert Johnson, SCUC Board Member

Re: Western Avenue Redevelopment

Southside Community United for Change is calling on Peoria City Council leaders to move forward with redevelopment of Western Avenue as planned for this summer. During a final meeting on the project more than a year ago, residents were reassured that Western Avenue redevelopment would take place this July. In nearly five years since SCUC proposed the project to the first district city council member, it has been delayed numerous times. Why?

Similar road projects have been completed in other neighborhoods throughout the city, Sheridan Road, Forest Hill, University, Northmoor Road, and Main and University. SCUC is empathic to the city’s budget shortfall, but Southside residents have not seen redevelopment in almost 40 years. Thank you for reconstruction of MacArthur Bridge. But as we have seen too many times in the past projects for South town disappear and the money is diverted to another project in the city. We believe that if the city council would commit to redeveloping our community more residents and businesses would return to the Southside just like they are doing in the Warehouse District.

SCUC wants to stop the disinvestment pattern in South Town. We believe that now, more than ever, residents must see economic progress taking place where it is most needed, within the 61605 zip code, the poorest one in the country. This systemic, economic, and social racism that has plagued Peoria for decades is now a part of the national debate in protests taking place across the country. It is also why Peoria, a few years ago made the Wall Street 24/7 Survey as the number one worst city in the country for Black Americans. We do not want to continue looking at boarded up windows on businesses.

Peoria needs to show progress by putting people to work on projects like the one slated for Western Avenue. With 11 million Americans on unemployment nationally, our local economy could stand a boost. If the Illinois Department of Transportation can move forward with road pavement projects like that currently underway on War Memorial, in the midst of a national health pandemic, why can’t Peoria do the same on Western Avenue? If the money is there, let’s move forward instead of waiting until election season!

Furthermore, SCUC would like to be a part of these and other discussions rather than having decisions made without any input from residents.