With Belvidere's population growing by 30 percent in the last decade, Mayor Fred Brereton says the time is now, the place is right to properly control the city's expansion.
"These 'business as usual' patterns of growth and development will place strains on sewer and water infrastructure, and on schools and recreational facilities, leading to increased taxes as new facilities are added," Brereton said.
The mayor argues that Belvidere is situated to handle new jobs and new homes. Brereton says while the city must be active in luring business and real estate, it also must have new transportation options in place like passenger rail and the I-90 corridor.
"Our historic community can gain new prominence as a regional city where motorists spend less time in traffic, residents live near jobs, schools, recreation and shopping," Brereton said.
On Belvidere's school district, Brereton praised school leaders for hearing out the public's direction for the district leading up to April's referendum. The mayor says the pivotal decision is now in the voters hands.
"A sound educational system is critical to the health of our youth and critical to our community's economic development opportunities," Brereton said.
With social issues, Brereton argued the importance of working to better unite the city's diverse population. He pleaded for churches to follow ALERTA's lead in anti-gang actions. The mayor concluded that the future of Belvidere must reflect its past values, especially to the natives who died too young in protecting it.
"We need to do our part, to make sure Brandon Ramey and hundreds of others that have given their lives are honored with continuing efforts to build a better Belvidere, a better Illinois, a better United States of America," Brereton said.