Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms accentuated many positives in a 2023 “State of the City” address Monday during joint meeting of Rock Island Kiwanis and Rotary clubs at the QC Botanical Center.

Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms gave the 2023 “State of the City” address to a joint meeting of the Rock Island Kiwanis and Rotary clubs on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

The city – which still “rocks,” he said – accomplished much over the past year, including:

  • Allocation of $26.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that will support capital improvement projects, road maintenance, public safety, local businesses, nonprofits and more.
  • Partnering with the Quad Cities Chamber, securing a $3 million grant to invest in and revitalize the downtown district with a total investment of $7 million that includes $1.5 million from the city’s TIF fund and $2.5 million in ARPA funding.
  • City Council passing a $160-million balanced budget with 90 days of reserves totaling $9.9 million and a surplus of $1.8 million over reserves.
  • Keeping property taxes have flat while bringing in more revenue through an increase in the equalized assessed value (EAV).
  • Approving a new Special Service Area downtown that will use tax revenue to enhance, maintain and beautify the area.
  • Filling several key leadership positions including city manager, police chief, community and economic development director, finance director, finance manager and community engagement manager.

Soon, the city will announce a new fire chief, who will step into the shoes of outgoing Chief Jeff Yerkey, retiring after 33 years with the department.

A rendering of the new federal courthouse being built in downtown Rock Island.

Mayor Thoms highlighted a number of major development projects underway across the city, including:

  • A new $25-million federal courthouse is being built at 320 18th Street for the Central District of Illinois. The three-story, 53,000-square-foot building will house multiple government tenants, which will contribute to the economy of Rock Island.
  • A new YWCA is under construction on 5th Avenue. The $9 million, 49,000-square-foot facility will increase the current capacity of 130 youth to 350.
  • The former Tri-City Jewish Center building at 2715 30th St. is being transformed into a combined Rock Island Public Library branch and YMCA facility. The $8.3-million project is another example of partnerships in the city, Thoms said.
  • A new Rock Island-Milan School District administration building is under construction on the corner of 6th Avenue and 20th Street. The $7.6-million facility will house 15,000 square feet of administration offices; a 15,000-square-foot warehouse for storage; and a 5,000-square-foot production kitchen on what used to be an empty lot.
  • A new parking lot is being constructed downtown on 16th Street and 3rd Avenue (on the site of the recently demolished parking garage), with space for 230 vehicles and charging stations for electric vehicles.

In 2022, the private sector invested $65 million in the city toward business expansion and new businesses, Thoms said. As a result, 13 new businesses opened.

Skylar Willingham, owner of Skylight Luxury Lounge, one of Rock Island’s new businesses (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Through the city’s partnership with DARI, there were 89 business expansion and attraction projects, 509 business engagements and 18 business celebrations and ribbon cuttings, the mayor said, noting the CED department facilitated $5.8 million of financial assistance to businesses.

In 2022, the Fire Department responded to approximately 7,600 calls for service, completed 9,500 hours of training and conducted 1,600 fire and life safety inspections.

The Police Department formed a partnership with Family Resources to provide crime victims support and assistance by assigning a violent crime specialist to the police department. Crisis response services are available 24/7.

In 2023, the city Police Department will partner with the Davenport Police Department and Family Resources to expand the Group Violence Intervention program to Rock Island. This program is being funded by a grant awarded to Family Resources by the Illinois Department of Human Services for violence prevention.

Group Violence Intervention partners with the city, police, community and social services to meet with people who may have connections to gun violence and provide the resources and support necessary to keep them safe, alive and out of prison.

Mayor Mike Thoms, speaking at thge Quad City Botanical Center, Rock Island, on Jan. 9, 2023 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Mayor Thoms was especially impressed that the Parks and Recreation Department operates 21 parks, covering 480 acres. Among its 2022 highlights were:

  • More than 37,000 visits to Whitewater Junction.
  • Over $370,000 in sponsorship, grant and donation revenue helping to offset costs of events, programs and projects.
  • 45,000 rounds of golf were played at Highland Springs and Saukie golf courses.
  • More than 18,000 people attended special events.
  • More than 250 rentals of Campbell Sports Complex, Douglas Park and Schwiebert Riverfront Park for sports, weddings and other events.
  • Over 40 fundraiser events and golf outings were held at Rock Island parks and golf courses, helping organizations raise over $200,000 for local charities and non-profits.
  • Over 2,000 kayakers participated in the annual River Action Floatzilla event at Sunset Park.
  • 95 recreational programs were offered in 2022 with nearly 10,000 participants.
  • There were more than 4,000 pickleball players at RIFAC and Mel McKay Park.
  • The Rock Island Fitness and Activity Center had 3,900 members and growing, offering 23 fitness classes with over 2,500 participants.

The city Capital Improvement Plan projects include $3.5 million in road and street improvements: $2.1 million for resurfacing of 31st Avenue from Rock Island-Milan Parkway to 11th Street; $655,000 for reconstruction of 22nd Street and 35th Avenue; and $334,000 in ARPA funds will be spent to repair the Rock Island-Milan Parkway; and reconstruction of 1st Avenue.

For more information, visit the city website HERE.