In 2016, Massie Massie & Associates of Springfield completed a long-term design plan for public spaces in downtown Galesburg. This year, the city of Galesburg began planning to make renovations to Park Plaza, a project that had been recommended in the Massie design plan.
GALESBURG — Within the next 20 years or so, tourists may be able to visit an Illinois town with a scenic downtown, world-class art, accessible bike trails and a Ferris wheel, all without the congestion of Chicago.
That vision is not an unattainable dream or a work of fiction, but an actual long-term plan for Galesburg compiled last year by Massie Massie & Associates of Springfield. After seeking public feedback and collaborating with a steering committee of community members, the landscape architecture firm presented a design plan to the city that focused on five project areas: Main Street, Galesburg corridor; Broad Street promenade and parks; Simmons Street inclusive urban corridor; Ferris Street and north downtown; and South Street and south downtown.
The city recently began planning for one large-scale project that had been recommended in the design plan: renovations to Park Plaza, 130 E. Main St., and the city’s parking lot E, located south of the park at 151 E. Simmons St. The renovations could include a pergola for concerts, flexible dining tables and chairs for outdoor lunches and space for food vendors, depending on public feedback.
Yet the Massie plan featured many other proposals for Galesburg’s downtown, including adding a Ferris wheel and triangular raised flower beds in Central Park; removing the gazebo at Standish Park; adding in bollard lights and shade sails over the playground at Standish Park; adding bike lanes on both sides of South Street; improving linkage of the sidewalks between Knox College and the downtown train depot area; and adding brick pavers to Prairie, Cherry and Simmons streets.
Kent Massie, co-owner of Massie Massie & Associates, said sometimes projects enter development plans because issues have arisen with them that need addressing, or cities want to ensure their successful programs have enough space to continue thriving. In the case of Park Plaza, there had been problems such as unnecessary entrances, but the firm and city also saw an opportunity to move successful programs to venues such as Standish Park or the future National Railroad Hall of Fame.
“We sort of look at it from an analytical standpoint of what are the problems and what needs attention, and there are ways to address those — but how they fall into priority, that’s kind of up to the community,” Massie said. “We can sort of nudge them in that, (saying) ‘this parking lot looks really, really bad.’ Sometimes looking at them from an outsider’s perspective is really good, but when it comes down to what is the priority, I think a lot of it comes down to funding.”
Wayne Carl, director of…