By | January 18, 2019

EAST PEORIA — The city of East Peoria is widely believed by its residents to have adequate commercial and retail developments and by a majority of those same people to be not particularly walkable city for pedestrians.

Residents of East Peoria’s Richland Neighborhood on Thursday were the first to hear the results of a community revitalization survey that was the joint work of the city of East Peoria and the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The results of the survey, taken and submitted by 420 East Peoria residents, will be incorporated into a yearlong study that will result in analysis and recommendations about improving the housing stock in the city. On Thursday, Richland residents weighed in about housing.

“No one wants big apartment buildings down here,” said Belinda Young, of the area neighborhood association, at Thursday’s meeting in the Richland Neighborhood Community Center. “They like the idea of single family housing and duplexes.

“How about town homes,” asked East Peoria planning director Ty Livingston.

No,” a couple of residents answered in unison.

“No?” said Livingston. “Too much?”

“Too much,” answered the residents.

According to the survey 34 percent of respondents desire more single-family homes in the city; 22 percent want more apartments; 13 percent want townhomes; 12 percent desire condominiums; 10 percent duplexes and 8 percent “workforce,” or more affordable housing. Asked if there is a need for more housing opportunities in their community 42 percent said there is a need, 27 percent said there is not a need and 30 percent said they were not sure.

Nearly 88 percent of respondents believe their community has adequate commercial and retail development and more than 80 percent believe their community has a variety of both retail and dining establishments.

That led one resident to say:

“We’ve got places to eat, drink and a gambling casino. That’s what we’ve got.”

The survey also revealed a need for more sidewalks and connectivity in the city. More than 50 percent of respondents disagreed that the city is “pedestrian friendly,” while just 35 percent agreed that it is a walkable city.

Emily Mueller and Diana Martinez of the IHDA led the discussion about the survey, looking for further input.

“We will be doing a housing stock assessment and a housing needs assessment in the community with the idea of creating a plan that could ultimately lead to programs like tax credits for housing developments and assisting with down payments for eligible home buyers,” Mueller said.

The city and IHDA will host two more community meetings to discuss the survey and solicit input. Those meeting will be from 4 to 6.p.m. on Jan. 23 at East Peoria Community High School, 1401 E. Washington St., and the First United Methodist Church, 154 E. Washington St. The meetings are being hosted in the neighborhoods targeted for revitalization, but all residents of East Peoria may attend.

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or be email at shilyard@pjstar.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.

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