More ideas are being generated for downtown Rock Island. One is aimed at increasing the area’s safety.

The State of Illinois awarded the City of Rock Island $3 million.

It’s a grant for downtown revitalization.

The city plans to use this money towards a $7 million project meant to enhance downtown and create a more welcoming place for the community.

“I am excited and feel good for the last five years to be able to be somewhat in a position that I can give back to a community that was so kind and great to me and my family,” Mayor Mike Thoms said.

Rock Island has struggled to to bring improvements to the downtown area, but they now have the resources for revitalization, thanks in part to a partnership with the Quad Cities Chamber that started in 2021.

“We did and paid for a study to be done a few years ago,” Thoms said. “There was a lot of public input and so we took that book off the shelf, dusted it off and said, ‘Hey, what were they looking for in the downtown area?’ So a combination of that, plus some input from the owners and businesses downtown. And now with input from the city council, we can develop a plan.”

Some previous ideas have included renewing weathered infrastructure and providing more amenities.
And after partnering with the Rock Island Police Department, they now seek to add more security.

“I know the police department wants to have more eyes on some of our corridors downtown,” Downtown Rock Island Director Jack Cullen said. “That’s why security cameras were included in the proposed project. It’s really about creating that welcoming and vibrant environment for everyone downtown. So things like security cameras to new lighting — those are really key pieces of the improvements that we plan to make.”

They hope to use these cameras to curb nuisances in the area.

“When someone’s panhandling or asking questions, some people view that as being unsafe. For the most part, it’s very harmless,” Thoms said. “They’re just needing some help and that’s something we need to deal with also. Find them help, find them a place to live, get them to some professionals that can work with them. That makes the difference also in downtown”

Thoms said work on the project is expected to begin next spring an he hopes it’s completed by 2026.