OREGON, Ill. (WTVO) — Oregon, Illinois residents will soon have their first greenspace downtown where families, shoppers and tourists can gather together.
City council members approved a motion on Tuesday night to continue work on the project. This is actually Phase Two of the project.
Phase One was a public restroom that was funded by a public-private partnership, where local banks contributed funds to buy the building.
“Now you’ll be able to come and have a greenspace where you can come, grab something to eat, go sit outside, enjoy the weather,” said Melanie Cozzi, commissioner of public property for the City of Oregon. “You can bike downtown. You’ll have a place to park your bike there and access the community.”
The Sarah Phelps Community Plaza has been a long time in the making. City council members approved forgoing a second bid process at Tuesday’s meeting.
The project will instead be awarded to a qualified contractor.
“I think that this offers a lot of extra greenspace where people can gather, where they’re not just sitting on a bench on the side of the road,” Cozzi said.
A drive-up bank moved down the block six years ago, making the space avaliable.
“We didn’t have a lot of money to do too much with it at the time, so we added a family restroom, so that if someone shopping downtown or they’re in Oregon, they have a place to stop,” said Oregon Mayor Ken Williams.
The city will now renovate both the inside and outside. The interior will have a community space with a counter, sink and stove.
“So, if the Lions are doing a pork chop luncheon, they can use that space. If any of our citizens wanted to use it for, like, a block party and have it there instead, they can utilize the space. It’s for their use, and they can sign up for it, use it anytime they want,” Williams said. “It’ll be a real eyecatcher as they go by and see that it’s a neat spot to sit and relax.”
The name honors Sarah Phelps, who was the wife of the city’s founder. Community members wanted to recognize her with this space.
“We didn’t have any place like that beforehand, so this gives us an opportunity to have people congregate outside,” Cozzi said. “We have such a beautiful downtown already, so this just gives us an extra bonus for people to come and enjoy.”
The plaza is located at 5th and Washington Streets, anchoring the end of the city’s business district.