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updated: 1/29/2014 10:03 PM

Few attend Elgin planning meeting in Spanish

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Despite efforts to reach out to Elgin's Spanish-speaking community, attendance was dismal at a meeting about the making of the city's new comprehensive plan.

Only six people -- including a city employee -- attended the "Envision Elgin" meeting on Wednesday night run by consultants from Houseal Lavigne Associates at the downtown YWCA. Those in attendance agreed that the most pressing issues in Elgin are filling empty spaces downtown, distributing services equally across the city, improving east-west transportation, and continuing to combat crime.

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About 30 residents attended a meeting in English in late November, Houseal Lavigne senior associate Brandon Nolin said. Spanish is spoken in 39.4 percent of Elgin households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Outreach included local newspapers, churches, the social services agency Centro de Informacion, and the Latino student association at Elgin Community College, Nolin said.

"We need more grass-roots efforts, more people on the ground to spread the word," he said, adding the cold weather might have been a factor.

Longtime Latino residents might feel like they don't have much to contribute, while newer immigrants might not even know how to express their feelings in public, said Centro's executive director Jaime Garcia, who was at the meeting.

Resident Franceline Oralia Villasenor said she tried to persuade relatives to come, but they were busy.

"I'm hoping for better turnout in the future," she said.

The planning process will last at least a year. The plan will serve to guide the city's land use and development decisions.

Residents can part in online surveys in English and Spanish at www.hlplanning.com/portals/elgin.

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