For all the things that made St. Charles the No. 1 place for families, according to Family Circle magazine, there are at least 64 things residents want to see sooner rather than later.
Chief on the list is preserving the historic charm and atmosphere of the city, St. Charles residents told a new team of consultants Wednesday night. Despite recent concern by some residents and city council members about the number of taverns downtown, the presence of those businesses generated only a handful of votes as a top concern.
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The consultants were hired to guide the city staff through a complete rewrite of the comprehensive plan. The plan will serve as a guide for development and construction priorities for the next 15 years.
"This is not zoning; this is planning," said John Hoseal, one of the consultants. "What do we want for the future of downtown? How do we want to handle community facilities? If something has always been industrial, should it stay industrial? Or should it be converted to commercial? I just want to hear your ideas and thoughts. We want to hear from you and whatever perspective you bring to the table."
Residents filled nearly all the seats in the city council chambers to provide that perspective on what the city must improve.
A close second to preserving the city's image is taking a proactive approach to filling all the vacant storefronts in town.
That includes adding more commercial business along Randall Road, rejuvenating Charlestowne Mall, finishing the First Street project, and developing the site of the old St. Charles Mall with a project that doesn't include a large number of apartments or condos, residents said.
The input from the session will be posted to a special website created to document the comprehensive plan process. There will be at least four more sessions for residents to provide that input.
The next session targets east-side residents. It will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at St. John Neumann Church, 2900 E. Main St.