By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
City officials are planning for expansion and growth as the Thomson prison is set to open in the near future.
The Fulton City Council held a special meeting to hear the results of an economic assessment by Terry Rumery of Rumery & Associates to determine the position of the community as the new facility opens.
Fulton had both positive and negative findings in several areas addressed in the study. Rumery commended Fulton for its overall appearance and cleanliness and utilization of the downtown area.
Suggested improvements included putting in more eye-catching signs and showing more town pride using signs with the school mascot. Rumery said Fulton has a nice park system, but recommended expanding and offering more parks. He suggested that the city develop the piece of property where a downtown building had burned, painting a mural and putting in a small pocket park. The small park would give residents a place to sit and relax.
Retail was a major topic of the assessment. Rumery pointed out that Fulton currently lacks fast-food restaurants. Putting in one or two would help keep visitors and residents from going into Clinton to feed their fast-food appetite. He suggested the city develop a retail plan to assess all retail areas available, including downtown, and then make a list of stores and businesses that officials would like to see in Fulton.
Instead of putting mixed-use housing in a large open plot of land, Rumery recommended making it an industrial area. To draw in businesses and families, Rumery suggested offering incentive packages from cash to low-interest loans.
Overall, Rumery said Fulton has many good things going along with things to improve. He assured the council that the prison is coming and that it will offer tremendous opportunities for growth.
“This is the icing on your cake,” Rumery said. “Communities with prisons see a lot of job growth.”
Rumery said the city has about an 18-month window to draw in new employees from the prison.