ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara offered an update on where the city stands on certain issues Tuesday night.
It was part of the annual “State of the City” address. McNamara addressed the city in different ways during the COVID-19 pandemic, including virtually. He said that it was crucial to stand before city council this year, however, just to show how much they have accomplished together.
“We’re all here for the same reason, we all love Rockford,” said 4th Ward Alderman Kevin Frost. “We’re all trying to make Rockford a better place for everyone.”
Frost, along with other aldermen, sat in while McNamara made his annual address. The mayor made it clear that the city’s top priority is public safety, with an emphasis on youth violence.
“Our officers are arresting 13, 14, and 15-year-olds who are carrying guns, stealing cars, committing armed robberies,” McNamara said. “Even children as young as 8-years-old are causing major property damage.”
Part of the blame can be linked to the city’s young people lacking a sense of belonging or being exposed to some form of trauma at home, according to McNamara. The city has allocated an additional $1.75 million to intervention programs for young adults to help, but Frost said that while progress is being made, more can be done.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Frost said. “Frankly, I’d like to see us carve out more money that we can to help out those programs.”
The city is also working to reduce blight, something that the mayor said has been dragging the community down. He believes that getting rid of eyesores can make an economic difference.
“We just recently demolished 1800 Broadway,” McNamara said. “Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you hear its an 140,000 square foot building that has been sitting there for nearly a decade, decaying and being vacant.”
While crime committed by young people is top of mind, the mayor reminded residents that domestic violence continues to have a steady rate, making up 40% of the city’s violent crime.