Peoria Heights using $68.5 million grant to re-do Galena Road, attract tourists

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PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WMBD) — A face-lift for Peoria Heights in the form of streets, trails, and parks; village leaders have nearly $70 million from a state grant to put to use.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, the mayor, village trustees, and other officials presented how they plan to use the $68.5 million state grant as part of their comprehensive economic plan.

Mayor Mike Phelan said the village board last year approved spending $90,000 to develop the plan. He said it not only looks at the needs presently but also 20 years out.

“We’ve been having a community-wide conversations about our opportunities,” Phelan said.

The project includes connectivity and features re-doing Galena Road by adding turning lanes, stoplights, and a pedestrian walkway over the roadway. Phelan said people often forget that major road passes right through the Heights.

“We see the river corridor developing in a lot of ways, but we don’t have good connectivity today,” Phelan said.

Phelan said with the help of State Senator Dave Koehler and State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, the state approved the grant for the village.

Village trustee of economic and business development Beth Khazzam said the village appreciates having the support from lawmakers in Springfield.

“We would not be able to do anything like that on our own and I think they both see the importance of it and have been truly helpful in us procuring those funds,” Khazzam said.

Part of the plan also includes the connectivity of the Rock Island Trail and installing trail-heads, marking people have made it to the Heights. State Senator Dave Koehler said he worked to make sure funds came back to the Peoria area.

“What’s exciting is that this becomes a destination point that helps all of the region, it’s not just Peoria Heights,” Koehler said.

Developer Kim Blickenstaff has his own plans to revamp Al Fresco Park on the lower side of the Heights. Combined with the village’s proposal to add multi-use trails for biking and running trustee Khazzam believes it will improve connectivity for the whole area.

“It’s a huge draw, it’s family-oriented. It’ll help our restaurants, it’ll help our small businesses,” Khazzam said. “It gets people outside to enjoy nature and it’s educational.”

“This I believe is a big regional project and I think not only Peoria Heights will, but the region can position itself to take advantage of eco-tourism which continues to grow,” Phelan said.

The Galena Road project is still in its’ early stages and according to the architect Paul Kouri, plans can change depending on I-DOT’s decisions.

To find more details on the village’s plans and what’s happening in the Heights, find it on their website.

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