Rockton approves streetscape plan

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ROCKTON - The Rockton Village Board approved its approximately $10 million Downtown Streetscape Master Plan during its board meeting Tuesday.

Village President Dale Adams said all parts of the plan were approved, except for the 100 block of Main Street portion of the plan which will be addressed at a later date.

Adams said the plan will be implemented in stages, and the parking portion of the plan is likely two to three years away.

"In the future we'll be able to make changes as we get closer to implementation," Adams said

Residents and downtown business owners expressed concerns about how the plan would address downtown parking options, specifically in the 100 block of Main Street. The current plan recommends parallel parking as a viable option.

Parallel parking is being considered so there can be wider sidewalks for restaurants to have outdoor seating and more room for pedestrian travel.

The plan was approved with a vote of 5-0-1, with Trustee Jodi May abstaining. Adams said since May owns a business downtown she felt it was inappropriate for her to vote on the plan. May is the owner of Sugar Britches.

The beautification plan would address sidewalks, buildings and parks in the downtown area, which is roughly defined as the area surrounding Main Street and Blackhawk Boulevard extending south to the Rock River and to the north to Village Green Park.

The plan includes installing decorative sidewalks, putting in streetlights that can hold banners and flower baskets and installing benches and bike racks.

The village will now begin the process of applying for grants for the project as they become available. Adams believes one of the first parts of the project the village will pursue is signage for existing municipal lots to make them more visible.

The village also is pursuing the possibility of a downtown hotel.

Village officials approved the hiring of the Growth Services Group back in October 2017 to conduct a hotel feasibility study for Rockton to provide a demographic and economic overview to determine if a hotel would be a good fit for the community of 7,685 people.

The village discovered that a downtown hotel to be feasible, with Rockton's healthy wedding and sporting industries as well as two large employers who bring in employees to be trained - Chemtool and Taylor Freezer.

Officials say the village has been receiving some interest from hotel groups about coming to Rockton.

Two possible hotel sites include the former Sonoco Paper Mill and land owned by Hendricks Commercial Properties along the Rock River immediately east of downtown and to the south of Hononegah High School.

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