Haight Village Neigbors Weigh In On Downtown Sports Complex

ROCKFORD (WIFR) --The sports complex planned for downtown Rockford is expected to welcome thousands of people for a single tournament, meaning big bucks for the city's economy. However, some living near the facility are worried it'll mean bigger traffic headaches in their historic neighborhood.

Joan Van Kessel says one of the biggest reasons she loves living in Haight Village is its historic status with plenty of old Victorian homes lining the block. She’s worried that extra traffic from the proposed downtown sports complex in the old Ingersoll building could spoil her neighborhood's charm.

"Routing the traffic through a neighborhood to try and get in there, it doesn’t make sense, there's no turnaround, there only one entrance and exit," says Joan Van Kessel, she’s lived in Haight Village for nearly 2 decades.

Her concern about the increased traffic is shared by many neighbors who turned up for a community meeting Saturday to discuss how the 100,000 square foot complex will affect the neighborhood.

"We have too many small kids and one thing we love about Haight Village is that it's a peaceful side street to Walnut/ Chestnut," says Maurice West II, he organized Saturday’s meeting.

Stephen Jaycox is one of several neighbors who think the project's leaders took too long to ask for community input.

“Maybe they didn't need us in the picture at this point but we really wanted to, from this point forward, when we get into the implementation process, be part of that planning,” says Stephen Jaycox.

Jaycox thinks for this project to work, the city should covert Chestnut Street from a one way to a two way as soon as possible. It’s something city planners are considering doing in the next decade.

"Certainly access is an issue to this facility. I think we're trying hard to make sure people understand there is a variety of ways to get in and out of this site and do that effectively and without running people through the neighborhood," says Capital Program Manager Patrick Zuroske.

Around 25 neighbors turned up to make their voices heard. Many say they support the project and are excited to see it finished, as long as it is done right.

The city is tweaking parts of the project, including those routes to get in and out of the complex. The project is being funded by around $10 million in state grants. The city council has not approved the $9 million dollars in loans for the project

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