Two subjects, that drew my attention at the Decatur City Council meeting last night were the Amtrak discussion and the Eldorado Streetscape project updates. Betsy Stockard is hoping to lure Amtrak back to Decatur. The effort to bring Amtrak to Decatur is going to require an organized and committed effort by not just Decatur but area communities. Dan Brintlinger addressed the council and brought up the subject of bringing high-speed rail service to Central Illinois. Brintlinger referred to the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, which is an organization hoping to bring high-speed rail to the Midwest. Personally, I think that is a very good idea. The Midwest, and many of its smaller to mid-size communities, who have trouble attracting and retaining air service, would benefit greatly from high-speed rail. It would help spur economic development throughout the Midwest and make travel much faster and convenient.
The Eldorado Streetscape project is a beautification effort to help improve the downtown area. The project would extend from Church Street on the West to the railroad crossing on the East. This stretch of Eldorado is very much dated with sidewalks and curbing well past their prime. The project includes new lighting, sidewalks, curbs, trees and other landscaping details. The funding is being provided by an IDOT grant with the city contributing around $350,000. The council seems fairly unanimous in its’ support for the project though Councilman Caulkins, would rather do without the wrought iron fencing. Personally, I think they’d be kind of cool! Problems that the project have encountered has involved obtaining a 10 foot easement on private property along the road to install the new landscaping. Most of the property owners are happily cooperating with the city. Let’s hope the remaining property owners hop on board.