Back in May, Medical District Commission president Michael Boer tried to pacify a roomful of rowdy north endresidents concerned about an apparent land grab in their area. By July, he assured them, government funding would be secured to create a development plan for Springfield's state-designated medical district. Homeowners would be consulted, he said; new development would be frozen.
At an unusually brief meeting on Sept. 16 the commission said it remained penniless -- and powerless -- to guide development in the district, which is bounded by North Grand Avenue and 11th, Madison, and Walnut streets. Meanwhile, homeowners stayed on edge as houses continued to be razed and new construction begun within the district boundaries north of Carpenter Avenue.
"The uncertainty of things at this point is really frustrating," says Marilyn Piland, executive director of the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association.
Such uncertainty came to an end on Wednesday when a representative for the governor's office announced that a $300,000 state grant had been awarded to the Medical District Commission of Illinois.
Several elected officials were present for the announcement, including Mayor Tim Davlin and state Sen. Larry Bomke and state Rep. Raymond Poe, who sponsored the legislation that created the medical district in January 2003.
The funding -- roughly half of which will be used to create a master development plan for the medical district, the other half toward marketing the site -- comes from the governor's "Opportunity Returns" program. Boer says a consultant, through a competitive bidding process, will be hired by the end of the year to design the plan, which should be completed by next summer.
"We are eager to get going on this," he says.
In related news, Boer announced on Monday that he will resign as CEO of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce to become president of a new local banking company. Davlin says this change in careers will not affect Boer's work in the medical district.