ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Boarded up, abandoned and rotting. They're the words that could be used to describe some of the houses on West State Street in Rockford, and they won't be there for long. The city plans to demolish and rebuild the area, a project that residents and local employees like Aleatha Townsend say is well overdue.
"It's going to make it look a lot better. Since I was younger, I grew up around here; it's just deteriorated so much. You didn't even want to drive down the street to look at it anymore, it's just horrendous”, says Townsend.
The city of Rockford is in the process of purchasing and demolishing approximately 100 buildings between Kent Creek and Independence Avenue. Once completed, construction will begin on widening portions of West State Street and creating a new environment for the neighborhood to enjoy, an idea that residents gave the city nearly a decade ago.
"The areas in and around them are going to be transitioned into green space, into a linear park. it will include a multi-use path, several recreational areas...not seen in this community anywhere else”, says Rockford Capitol Program Manager, Patrick Zuroske.
Despite the change in scenery, residents say it doesn't solve all the neighborhood's problems and more changes will need to be made to improve the area in the future.
Townsend says, "Working here, there's people that come here and panhandle that come and start problems, they have no jobs. So they're still going to be around here, it's still not going to change anything with the people in the neighborhood."
The project is being funded by the city of Rockford and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Construction is projected to continue for the next two years with an expected completion date of late 2014.