Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sadly, the Council has approved the $5M for the second phase of Festival Park (Courier article). From the story:
...The climbing net will offer children a web of ropes to clamber over and there will be structures that can be made to sound musical notes and other less-than-familiar attractions designed to give the park an almost circus-like atmosphere.
Circus-like atmosphere...This is my general complaint about the Hitchcock design. If the latest one is anything like the original artist's illustration they produced, it threatens to convert a dignified city into an amusement park. This is the City of Elgin, not Six Flags Great America. We don't want a circus-like atmoshere. We want civic dignity, a tasteful design in the tradition of the Civic Center we boldly constructed decades ago.

The other problem is that festival park in its current dimensions will permanently seal the casino out of the downtown, when the objective should be to connect it to the downtown. Because River Park Place is completely residential, no help can come from the east side of Grove Avenue. The entire Festival Park plans should have been redrawn to narrow the park to the half of the grounds facing the river, leaving the other half that faces the street mixed-use construction. That would creat the corridor to connect the casino and its millions of visitors to the downtown.

The $5M would have been better earmarked for the demolition of the Unilever factory, and a request for proposals issued for the Festival Park site. I will have more to say about the problems of Festival Park later. Is it too late for them to change their minds?


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