Moline residents, business owners and other stakeholders are invited to attend three community open houses this week to discuss plans for the three neighborhoods that span the city's riverfront.

Renew Moline and the City of Moline will host the meetings as part of their effort to update the city's master plan for the riverfront, which includes Moline Centre and the Edgewater and Floreciente neighborhoods. The Lakota Group, which has been hired to update the plan, will conduct the open houses.

Renew Moline Executive Director Janet Mathis said the meetings are the latest step in a process that began in February with public input sessions led by WQPT. More recently, members of the city staff, Renew and the neighborhoods conducted a walking tour of the three neighborhoods on Nov. 2.

"By walking through, we had a better chance to visualize and see what's going on currently in these neighborhoods," she said. "The open houses are a continuation of that ... to show the public what's been looked at already and to get some more input."

At the meetings, the focus will be on issues related to economic development, neighborhood revitalization, transportation and community appearance in each of the adjacent neighborhoods.

The city received a $100,000 grant for the master plan through the Illinois Community Development Block Grant IKE-Disaster Recovery Program. The funding is the result of Hurricane Ike in 2008, which spawned severe storms in the Midwest after ripping through Texas. 

The city last updated its Moline Centre plan in 2001, releasing it in 2002. The latest report will encompass the downtown business district as well as Floreciente to the west and Edgewater to the east.

"We want input from anybody that wants to provide it ... because this plan is going to be used by the city and Renew as we look at development going forward," Mathis said. "This is not just a plan for one, two or three years. The last one was in 2001, and we still use that as a guidepost."

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Meanwhile, the city also received a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct a transportation-related study of the riverfront. "This will be a separate project, but it will be part of the planning process," Mathis said.

Major transportation projects in the planning stages, including the new Interstate 74 corridor, the multi-modal (Amtrak) station and the expansion of Western Illinois University. "We need to look at how to bring all those modes of transportation together," she said.

Mathis said Moline has two years to complete the study and soon will request proposals.

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