New use for Quad City Downs a goal for next East Moline mayor

Relocating Rock Island County Fairgrounds is one option

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - East Moline's looking to rebound.

Some big businesses packed up shop in recent years and the jobs disappeared.

Quad City Downs closed and so did the old Case plant.

Plans are moving forward to do something about the old Case facility.

The Bend on the Mighty Mississippi is a development that will feature two Hyatt Hotel brands side by side, apartments along with plans for retail and more commercial development on the 132-acre property.

City Council gave its blessing in December with support from Mayor John Thodos. Only Thodos will not help shepherd the project much longer.

That changed when the 12-year incumbent lost his reelection bid in the primary to fellow Democrat Reggie Freeman.

Freeman claimed almost 60 percent of the vote. He more than doubled Thodos' total of about 23 and a half percent. Gary Westbrook came in third.

There was no Republican primary.

That puts Freeman alone on the April general election ballot and in line to be the city's next mayor.

There used to be no debate when it came to including East Moline as one of the Quad Cities. The city got fourth billing when you only thought of four cities making up the Quad Cities. Then Bettendorf surpassed it in population.

Now, we celebrate the distinction of having five cities in the Quad Cities. But, East Moline sometimes gets relegated to fifth wheel status when people only name four.

The man determined to make sure East Moline stays relevant, Mayor-elect Reggie Freeman, discussed the challenges facing his city during an appearance on 4 the Record.

Every city carves out an identity. Davenport's the focal point of the Quad Cities with an emphasis on industry and the riverfront. Bettendorf is the bedroom community known for its quality of life. Moline is John Deere and is reinventing its downtown.

Rock Island and East Moline are both trying to work things out after losing some business in recent years.

Freeman explained what vision he has for the city as mayor. He would like it to be strong for business and a nice place to live.

The Bend project is the most promising undertaking in East Moline for quite some time. Phase one alone involves an investment of more than $76 million. Freeman says its success is crucial for East Moline.

Another big plot of land that's sitting empty is the old Quad City Downs. It closed for good a couple of years ago when the off track betting operation shut down. Horse racing ended long before that.

Freeman wants to see the city get involved with the community and potential investors to figure out how that property can be put to use. He suggested possible ideas like getting the Rock Island County Fairgrounds to relocate there as well as turning it into an auto racing facility for cars smaller than traditional NASCAR.


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