By Fred Arnold Telescope Publisher
Belleville city council member Mike Palmquist is passionate about progress. He says one way or another 2021 is going to be a year of progress for Belleville. And that includes infrastructure.
Specifically, Palmquist said one project that needs to be moved up the city’s priority list is the extension of a sidewalk from Casey’s north to the city park. “There are more people walking than ever before,” Palmquist said. And from a safety standpoint alone you would think the city would want to provide a safe avenue for people who are out walking. “Seeing people, including a lot of kids, always walking up and down Main Street particularly after dark just gives me the willies.”
Last week the councilman raised the issue before fellow council members. Palmquist said he was surprised at the lukewarm reception he received.
“A community needs a lot of things if they are going to be progressive,” Palmquist said. “It’s about more than electronic signs and plazas. We’re talking infrastructure.”
“When a business or industry considers coming to town or people think about moving to a particular area a good system of sidewalks and roads plays an important part in showing the town as progressive. A good sidewalk system shows a much better first foot forward than a town full of electronic signs that tell you what time it is.”
Palmquist said the city currently has a program in place to dedicate $15,000 a year toward sidewalk upgrades. But he said those funds aren’t always used. What he supports is a measure to direct one year of those funds toward a new sidewalk project from the convenience store to the park.
“We can lay a lot of concrete down for $15,000,” he said. “The city can do the labor of installation; we’ve got the labor pool to do it.”
Councilman Doane Sells said last week that while he was not against such a project, something of that nature should be funded using Community Development Block Grant funding. “I think you would really need to go CDBG on this,” Sells said.
Palmquist, however, said all that would do is kick the can down the road and take longer than needed.
“We don’t need a CDBG,” he said. “We already talked about this last year and it went nowhere. I want to make sure it gets done this year.”
Palmquist told the Telescope he already has at least one individual who will step up and donate monies toward the sidewalk program.
“People recognize this is a project that they want to see done. If they are willing to donate money toward it and we don’t step up and get it done it’s hard for us to tell people that we’re a progressive town.”
2021 is going to be a year of progress for Belleville, Palmquist emphasized.