MOLINE, Ill. — On Wednesday evening Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati held her first in-person 'listening post,' and offered residents a chance to voice how they'd like the city's American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to be spent.
The city is receiving just over $20 million from the federal government, as part of President Biden's pandemic recovery program. Rayapati says she'd like to take the realities of the pandemic, add them to the ARP guidelines, factor in the city's wants, all to ultimately improve the community.
"Everyone wants our community to succeed, you know, whether it's business attraction and development, or whether it's improved facades or homes being more well taken care of, or the parks being more well taken care of, everybody has a desire to see our city succeed," said Rayapati. "So I don't think we can go wrong with that behind us."
Wednesday's hour long meeting in Prospect Park began with the mayor laying out the city's six core values:
- Service and engagement
- Innovation, adaptability, and resiliency
- Welcoming and inclusive
With those in mind, she then unveiled five pillars of spending:
- Economy - Moline's downtown space, the mall, etc.
- Safe Place - making a safe community for residents and children, having a fair police force, emphasizing holistic health, etc.
- Quality of Place - what Moline has to offer with parks, pools, rivers, etc.
- Infrastructure - streets, sewer lines, water pipes, broadband internet, etc.
- Built Environment - homes, commercial spaces, etc.
After introducing her different categories, the mayor passed sticky notes out to the 60 gathered residents, asking them to write down their ideas and concerns, then put them on the corresponding pillar.
Within minutes each of the five boards were full of brightly colored post-it notes, with infrastructure and quality of place being the two most popular.
Among the ideas, the most frequent were revitalizing the SouthPark Mall, removing or repurposing the city's abandoned buildings, fixing the sidewalks, replacing sewers, planting more trees, and financially helping small businesses recover from the pandemic.
"I think it was a wonderful to hear from so many residents," said Rayapati. "I am always open to varied perspectives. And, and, you know, my job is to weigh that with what the council thinks and how they're gathering information and with our regional partners. And so it was a great, great night."
Now the city will compile all of the night's ideas and present them to the City Council. The mayor hopes to combine those with feedback in a city-wide survey, which asks residents to rank Moline's core values by importance to them.
That survey is available on the city's website, just click here to access it. You can also fill out a paper copy at City Hall.
Rayapati hopes to take all of those responses and create a strategic plan for the ARP funding by July.