DeKalb, NIU agree to cooperate on study


Some campaign promises actually came true at the DeKalb city council meeting Monday night.

Developing closer ties between NIU and the city was an issue brought up in the aldermanic and mayoral elections last spring.

The council took a step in that direction by passing a resolution that authorizes DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow to sign a contract with NIU’s Center For Government Studies to do a downtown DeKalb marketing study.

The contract would pay the center $20,000 to study the downtown area and formulate a plan for future growth, said Bill Nicklas, city manager.

“The study would involve interviews and focus groups with merchants, property owners, restaurateurs, downtown tenants and government officials, as well as phone surveys with residents in the community,” Nicklas said. “This study will give us what the vision might be of the future, and the concerns of the present.”

The usual process of bidding for these types of projects was waived in this instance by the council.

“Because of the many volunteered insights and hours which the Center for Governmental Studies has contributed to local downtown planning and development efforts in past years, the staff recommends the city council waive the bidding requirement,” Nicklas said.

“Also, I believe we would pay much more somewhere else, and we would get someone who didn’t know the turf,” he said.

The Center for Government Studies also assured the council that the study would be completed in time for fiscal year 1995, thus enabling the city to act on the findings and recommendations of the study in the 1995 budget.

Sparrow supported the study, and the fact the city was using NIU as a resource. “Here’s an opportunity to use Northern and get a definite idea what the merchants and the people want, and get it from a local source,” he said. “If we are ever going to get (the downtown) moving, this is the first step. This will set a plan with a vision in mind and these findings in mind.”

John Lewis, senior research associate at the Center for Government Studies, said the plan they had in mind would get everyone involved, so there would be a better chance everyone would buy into the results.

“The way to get people involved is to get them involved up front,” Lewis said. “In the first stages of the process, we are involving different stakeholders in the downtown area, and we will come up with a consensus that most people will buy into.”