Revitalizing DePue

NCICG works with village

DEPUE — DePue residents had the opportunity to attend an open house meeting at City Hall on Tuesday to view the first copy of the comprehensive plan completed by North Central Illinois Council of Governments.

Village officials and community members have been working with representatives from NCICG since the end of last summer to develop the map-like plan that provides guidelines and ideas on how to better improve the village.

Kendall Cramer, community development coordinator of NCICG, reviewed the highlights of the plan. He pointed out that most of the planning revolved around DePue’s lake and parks.

“The majority of the feedback we got back from community surveys and interviews with residents showed that the future of the town is dependent on saving the lake and revitalizing it,” he explained. “The message is the lake has always been important to the community, so we’re trying to make it better for the people.”

NCICG put most of its focus into Lake DePue, Lake Park and Memorial Park.

Some of the ideas they came up with included installing an observation and fishing pier on the lake; restoring the old train depot and moving it to the park to be used as a concession area with restrooms; installing a stage area within the park to utilize for community events throughout the year and redeveloping Memorial Park entirely by installing a second soccer field, a playground area, parking lot and concession stand.

“The goal would be to try to get people to DePue to see how beautiful its lake is and why it’s important to save it,” Cramer explained.

With DePue being apart of the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway and the American Discovery Trail, which stretches coast-to-coast, Cramer said it’s important to preserve the nature within the village, which could potentially attract visitors to the area.

A lingering issue with planning, however, is DePue’s Superfund site, which Cramer estimated covers about 950-acres of land.

“It’s all dependent on the level of cleanup that will be done,” he explained. “What’s the (Environmental Protection Agency) going to say? And what will be the restrictions on how to use the land after the cleanup?”

The process is going to take a lot of community support and effort, but it’s something NCICG is positive the village will get through and keep moving forward.

“The people of DePue, the mayor especially, continues to work to get it cleaned up and have communications with the responsible parties,” Cramer said. “I think definitely with this lake, DePue could be a really cool location for people to come once they get here. We’re really trying to develop it into a space that could be recognized regionally.”

There will be a public hearing for residents to talk about the comprehensive plan at 5:30 p.m. April 28 at City Hall. Immediately following the public hearing, the planning commissions team will meet and discuss their thoughts on the plan. Following that meeting, the village board will meet at 7 p.m. (April 28) and is expected to approve the plan.

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