DeKalb: Between moo and mall

By Josh Albrecht

Suburban sprawl is all too often painfully evident. And has much as I can’t stand the cookie-cutter mentality of the suburbs where, as Hollywood has told me, disgruntled kids fall in love with nerds, I understand its importance in the American landscape.

However, I understand the importance of farms and forests a little more.

Now, that may be because I am from a small, rural farming town where you are more likely to hear a cow moo than someone yelling “Hey, I’m walking here,” but the more I analyze the situation, the more I don’t like the idea of more suburbs.

What’s worrying me is the present development of DeKalb. Sure, DeKalb isn’t technically a suburb, but the people in my hometown think it is and that’s why DeKalb better be careful in the years to come.

I’m not saying that DeKalb shouldn’t be a major place of commerce. I would be one of the first ones to jump on the “lets bring the Metra to DeKalb” bandwagon, but with some careful planning DeKalb will be able to hold onto that small town feel that it likes to boast.

The problem with boasting the small town feel is that it’s just not working.

To those from Chicago, DeKalb is a small town, but to those of us from a town of 4,000 people, this place is a mecca of shopping delights.

Thus, DeKalb needs to find its niche within today’s world.

It needs to understand that when coupled with NIU, it can be one hip place and both can continue to develop with a sense of a little something called smart growth.

DeKalb and NIU are both booming right now as construction is everywhere.

NIU has Barsema Hall and the arena and DeKalb has what many people like to call, “that area out by Wal-Mart.”

But what must be remembered in order for both to keep their uniqueness and charm is that DeKalb isn’t on Route 59, it’s on Route 38 and NIU doesn’t reside in two towns, just one.

In the past few years, I have begun to call DeKalb home. It is the type of community that I wouldn’t mind raising a family in someday, but things could be better, as with any community.

One way to improve things would be to continue to set aside land that cannot be developed for another apartment complex or a restaurant that serves American food and has crap on the walls.