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Give your opinions on downtown Kankakee

September 16, 2018

If you search websites for the city of Kankakee, you will find a survey asking you to help set priorities for proposed improvements along Schuyler Avenue.

The renovation and rebirth of Schuyler Avenue has been a Kankakee success story during the past 25 years. Old, abandoned commercial structures were knocked down despite some opposition. The old Kankakee Hotel was taken down and replaced by a new office building, though there was opposition to that, too.

The result was a new, modern city library that has become a destination point for all sorts of activities. Likewise, the parking lot fills every spring and summer Saturday morning with an active farmers market.

Across the street, the west side of Schuyler has seen new shops go in, aided by some decorative railing, seating and lighting. North of Court Street, the Paramount Theatre remains vibrant. Across the street from there, the rehabbed Majestic Theatre hosts live events and banquets.

So, we have a success story here. As we make a suggestion or two, we view these as added positives to make a good area better.

A couple of ideas:

• Public art. This is suggested in the survey and we second the idea. Kankakee has not really had a public art campaign since the wolves of many years ago. Time to try this again.

• Public transit is good, but could be better. The Metro Bus transfer point is the north end of a lot across from the Paramount. Would it make more sense to be more closely linked to Amtrak or to the Zagster bike station?

• More retail shops would be beneficial. More classes, more programs, more training needs to exist to foster entrepreneurs — here and elsewhere.

• More and more modern housing. If you have more shops, you need more shoppers. A plan for new downtown housing was canceled when costs grew too high. This will not be easy, but remains an area where the city must keep trying.

The fact the city is seeking ideas is a plus in itself. We urge residents to call up the site and add their comments.

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