SIU, Carbondale working to develop long-term plan for downtown

Millions of your tax dollars are on the line as a local community tries to redevelop its image for the first time in 25 years. 

The last time Carbondale, Illinois, had a master plan for its downtown was in 1990. Many of the projects in the 1990 master plan are just now being completed.

Downtown redevelopment was a platform Mike Henry used to become Carbondale mayor. “It’s a priority, and it’s something we need to do,” Henry said.

“This is a long time coming,” Meghan Cole said. “Some of the things that we’ve discussed is creating a multi-modal transportation center, and changing Illinois Avenue into two way traffic. This will be a multi-million dollar project to do everything on the list.”

Based on those recommendations from the Downtown Advisory Committee, the city has invested $400,000 in the next year for downtown improvements. To get a feel for the bigger picture, Southern Illinois University professors like Jessica Crowe have sent out 2,000 surveys to understand what the city of Carbondale needs as a whole.

“This is the community. These are people’s voices,” Crowe said. “There are certain groups of people whose voices don’t get heard very often, so this is a chance for their voice to be heard.”

The results of the 20 minute survey will be sent to city consultants for consideration. However, Henry says there is still some work to be done before the wish list becomes a reality.

“We’re going to have to have some outside funding,” Henry said. “It would be nice to have some grants, and we need private investors, which we have locally, that are ready to step up and do some projects.”

The consultant firm hired by Carbondale to redevelop downtown is holding an open-house workshop on June 24 for public feedback on proposals that will be unveiled that night.

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