EDITORIAL: Beloit College deserves praise

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Power plant project would be great addition to riverfront.

THE GOOD NEWS along Beloitís picturesque riverfront just keeps ... well, flowing.

Just a few weeks ago the Ken Hendricks Memorial Bridge was completed and opened along Henry Avenue. The northern end of Riverside Park witnessed the final touches for that lovely public space. And across the way, the spectacular landscaping and stone display for the Eclipse Center was finished, a sparkling addition to the Rock River corridor.

Altogether it is an exceptional combination, greeting visitors as they enter the vastly improved City Center of Beloit.

Now ... next?

ON FRIDAY, BELOIT COLLEGE announced plans for a dynamic project involving the Blackhawk Generating Station property.

College officials are in discussions with Alliant Energy, owner of the Blackhawk site, for acquisition. Alliant has expressed its desire to partner with the college to make the project work.

If it all comes together Beloit College would invest an estimated $30 million to convert the building and grounds into a state-of-the-art campus fitness and activity center. The site would house a swimming pool, large open activity area, food services, an indoor running track, green roof space, expandable meeting rooms and more.

It would be enclosed on the river side by an expanse of windows creating a spectacular view.

While the property primarily would be intended for campus use, Beloit College President Scott Bierman told the newspaper the project is being planned with opportunities for community usage in mind as well.

THIS IS BIG NEWS. From the state line to the northern end of Riverside Park, the river corridor has been transformed into a thing of beauty and practicality. It has become a major attraction not only for community members and events, but also for out-of-towners. This key part of the City Center shows exceptionally well.

So well, in fact, that it is not unusual at all for representatives of other places to visit with an eye toward developing similar plans to improve their own communities.

One of the few as-yet-unimproved landscapes along Beloitís riverfront has been the Blackhawk site. While the company had spruced up the property over the years, it obviously was a site ripe for adaptive redevelopment of some kind. The fact that Alliant Energy has expressed an eagerness to partner with Beloit College in that effort speaks well of the companyís corporate citizenship.

THERE ARE MANY aspects of the plan that must fall into place before it becomes reality, from acquisition to fund-raising to construction. However, all involved seem highly optimistic this is do-able and that about four years hence it can be completed.

Beloiters should be enthused. It is one more significant step in the ongoing reclamation of the community.

Underlying all the City Center improvements are these two critical factors ó belief in Beloit and commitment to its future. Thatís a tough combination to beat.

Congratulations to Beloit College, for a visionary plan. Its success will bring benefits to the entire community.†

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