AGN Revitalization moves forward with 11 approved projects


AGN Revitalization moves forward with 11 approved projects

Fathima Siddiqui

DeKalb — Members of the Annie Glidden North [AGN] Revitalization Plan task force received awards for their groundwork, which was finalized Monday by City Council.

The AGN Revitalization Plan is an ongoing project to beautify the city and allow opportunities for residents.

The task force spent about a year collaborating and strategizing with the community to focus on 11 high priority projects for the community. Some of those projects include housing and commercial development, neighborhood safety, transportation, infrastructure and community services.

The city of DeKalb has not yet decided what projects it will start with. However, the task force and leading partners of the AGN Plan are recruiting and welcoming community members to participate.

During the planning process, Community Development Director Jo Ellen Charlton said the task force met with the university to spread awareness about the AGN Plan and get students involved.

Charlton said they relied heavily on ideas and suggestions from residents. Popular demands from the community were labeled high priority projects.

“We’ve had a really positive response,” Charlton said.

One of the high-priority projects includes community service. Dan Kenney, executive director of the DeKalb County Community Gardens, helped strategize to create a community food and education center. He said this project is meant to provide job opportunities as well as access to food unique to the DeKalb area.

The Plan is combining a “farm-to-table” restaurant and grocery store with classrooms to educate the community about the environment.

Kenney said those involved with the project are trying to raise awareness and welcome everyone to join their efforts in bettering the neighborhood.

“I think this is the best opportunity that the city has had to make positive changes in the neighborhood,” Kenney said.

Another major concern among residents is safety and security. The Plan proposes to improve the lighting and surveillance system to prevent crime while balancing while allowing residents their privacy. This project is estimated over $100,000.

Pittsley Realty owner Mike Pittsley was part of the safety committee on the task force. Their short-term goal included safety and transportation, while the long term goals were to attract businesses to the area.

Pittsley said these projects will be implemented based on the budget costs for the city.

“Just like NIU, the city has budgetary problems, so implementation is going to have to be done on a cost — what they can afford,” Pittsley said. “Hopefully the city will follow through and do the smaller things that can be done.”

Pittsley said the city has come up with projects like these before, but it hasn’t followed through.

The task force also considers the long term effects of the AGN Revitalization Plan. They plan to create a community development corporation [CDC] to continue the efforts of the AGN Revitalization Plan. The CDC will be responsible to look after the current and future projects of the AGN Plan and continue to work towards making the lives of local residents comfortable.

Other projects include a focus area near W. Hillcrest Dr. and Blackhawk Rd. Another focus area will be created near the campus on Lucinda Ave. These focus area projects are meant to upgrade the locations and accessibility for pedestrians. Due to the dense population in these areas, the main focus for the task force is to work on providing safety, transportation and health care services. Both focus areas are expected to cost over $100 thousand each.

“[The feedback] is all positive,” Charlton said. “The members of the commission who who are still interested in moving forward are continuing to have conversations with people and try to build relations and projects.”