The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

February 13, 2014

Fulton works toward creating comprehensive plan

FULTON, Ill. — Fulton leaders are taking the first step in creating a comprehensive plan for the city's future for the first time in more than 40 years.

Not since 1971 have the aldermen and alderwomen of the Fulton City Council sat down and discussed their priorities for developing the river city. However, guided by newly appointed City Administrator Ed Cannon, the council this week came up with a variety of specific areas they feel need to be addressed in the city's future.

"This kind of gets us an idea of what your priorities are," Cannon said. "Now, when we get into eventually the strategic planning you may find that your sense of priorities are either right in line or, totally out of whack with what the community wants."

The discussion generated separate categories ranging from economic growth, business sustainability, community outreach and infrastructure management.

Of the groups, the biggest and most agreeable city initiative was developing the 112 industrial land acres along Illinois 84 that the city purchased last year. Since purchasing the land, little has been done to market the property to potential businesses which the council would like to see change in the next fiscal year.

Along the lines of developing the industrial property on the south side of the city, the group also agreed that encouraging small businesses and other potential commercial advancements to the city's already established Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in the western portion of the city was another key point in rebuilding a steadily decreasing tax base.

"We market ourselves on the standpoint of tourism but, we haven't marketed our assets," Mayor Larry Russell said. "We're not going for the home run here but we have these properties that are valuable that we are not marketing. You can't just put up a sign and say 'well they'll come.' You have to get out to let developers know that you have a prime piece of land, 8,000 vehicles a day going by it and it's in a TIF district. They don't know that automatically."

Another strongly favored point on Monday, agreed upon by the majority of the council, was developing housing opportunities within the city limits.

Conversations about establishing senior housing in the city of Fulton, whose population Russell said was "steadily aging," has frequented the city council's table for a number of years and the conversation remained the same this week.

One difference though also was creating affordable housing opportunities for young families looking to settle down in the river city.

"What's important to me is to get more housing for young families, to help our schools," Russell said. "And that includes rehabbing the existing neighborhoods so that they become more attractive; new affordable housing to existing homes that would be affordable for everyone."

While the members of the council agreed that each issue are all priorities of the city's future, funding those sort of initiatives is not a feasible reality. But, as Cannon said, the work session was not about establishing a concrete budget, it was only designed to open up the dialog between the aldermen and alderwomen, and getting to know a little bit about what they'd like to see for the city of Fulton.


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