Attend meeting for John Street

By Diane DeMers

As a 25-year resident of the Ellwood Historic Neighborhood, I am very concerned about what lies ahead for this beloved cluster of older homes and majestic trees burrowed between NIU and downtown DeKalb. The fate of the John Street area of this neighborhood will be determined at the upcoming City Council meeting today.

The city proposes to change the zoning of the John Street area to “Commercial” through an “Enterprise Zone.” The homes in this area, built in the late 1800’s, are zoned “Multi-Family Residential.” Some properties are boarding houses for students, while others are for single families. The city estimates that 100-200 boarding rooms would be lost in demolishing these properties.

What is the city planning for this area? One plan, the DeKalb 2020 plan, proposes a 40-50,000-square-foot pentagon-shaped conference center hotel, 6-10 stories high, with 180-230 rooms and a two-story parking structure.

The west side of John Street is in a flood plain. Therefore, NIU has a plan that will drastically alter the beautiful East Lagoon. By turning the lagoon into a huge dry basin with a small stream, it will absorb overflow from the Kishwaukee River during extreme flooding. Therefore, John Street can be removed from the flood plain designation.

It’s important students and residents of this neighborhood and greater DeKalb attend and express their opinions on this issue. The John Street neighborhood is a significant part of a larger historic neighborhood. NIU’s East Lagoon is a crown jewel. Once they are gone, they are gone forever.