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Monmouth awarded $3 million grant for downtown revitalization

MONM_SQUARE
Courtesy photo
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City of Monmouth
The $3 million Rebuild Illinois grant will be used for streetscaping and beautification of the downtown square.

The city of Monmouth will use a $3 million Rebuild Illinois grant to revitalize its downtown square.

The project has been in the works for several years, according to City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher.

He said the city twice applied for $2 million Illinois Transportation Enhancement grants, and was denied both times, despite scoring high.

But with the even larger grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the city is expecting an even larger impact from the revitalization.

“This will be something that will clearly change the face of downtown Monmouth for decades to come,” Steinbrecher said.

The city’s vision for the project was to improve the look of the square and its four quadrants, but they also sought input from the public on functionality.

One of the main concerns was adequate parking downtown.

“The design really has a very nice balance between maintaining the number of parking spaces that are available in the quadrant yet at the same time softening the look of those quadrants,” Steinbrecher said.

The downtown enhancement plan calls for new landscaping, rain gardens, planted medians, benches, and pedestrian lamps.

Another concern was pedestrian safety.

To that end, traffic will be tapered from two lanes into one lane in each of the four directions entering the square.

The street around the center of the square will also be reduced to one lane, to slow traffic and make room for curbed islands with landscaping.

Steinbrecher said the revitalization will support TIF grants made through the city’s downtown commercial building rehabilitation program.

“We’ve seen a lot of money being invested to preserve the structural integrity of a lot of downtown buildings over the last few years,” Steinbrecher said.

The city is also replacing an aging water main adjacent to the square that runs underneath some downtown buildings. That will provide a better water source for the square’s fountain.

The water main project will be underway by the end of this year, while design specs and the bidding process begin for the downtown revitalization.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson covers west central Illinois and southeast Iowa for Tri States Public Radio.