Alton Main Street rallies supporters to fight potential budget cut

From Illinois Business Journal news services

ALTON — Alton Main Street officials have gone on the offensive, trying to rally public support against potential city budget cuts.

Officials said Wednesday that the search for a solution to the city’s underfunded pension obligation is putting the community organization at risk. Mayor Brant Walker has proposed removing $18,000 allocated for Alton Main Street from the city’s budget.

“The work of AMS contributes to the economic growth and historic preservation of Downtown Alton, and the positive effect of having a thriving Downtown improves the quality of life in the entire community,” said Sara McGibany, executive director.

One of the organization’s most notable accomplishments, she said, is the rapid growth of the Alton Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market. That event and the organization’s other activities draw more than 25,000 people per year to shop, dine and be entertained in Downtown Alton.

Alton Main Street has coordinated numerous projects to help bring life to the downtown district and improve its appearance, such as the creation of public art and pocket parks.

“I believe Sara and the Main Street organization understand the concept of building on existing assets and the need to maintain a welcoming atmosphere to attract visitors,” said Pat Ackman with the Miles Davis Memorial Project, which is being completed in Downtown for debut this fall. “I support Main Street and the services they provide that are making a difference to the community, and hope they are allowed to continue their work.”

AMS also lends specialized support to entrepreneurs who are looking to locate in the district, along with assisting with the retention, promotion and expansion of existing businesses in the area, according to McGibany.

“We work to attract new businesses and provide an abundance of exposure for small shop owners who have limited advertising budgets,” she said. “We also coordinate approximately 3,500 volunteer hours annually, providing services that ease the burden of city government.”

“This $18,000 cut would do very little to improve the city’s budget deficit and it would completely decimate an organization that does nothing but great things for our community,” Alderman Jim Ryan said, in a statement released through Alton Main Street.

The “Save Main Street” campaign is now underway, educating citizens who would like to express their opposition to this cut before the Alton City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, June 22, at 7 p.m. when the proposed cuts will be on the table.

Alton Main Street board President Stacey Loveland is encouraging residents to call aldermen to urge them to keep Alton Main Street in the city budget.
An online petition and other information can be found at: www.DowntownAlton.com/SaveMainStreet.

Since 1995, Alton Main Street (formerly known as Alton Marketplace) has been part of the Illinois Main Street program, which is a community based approach used around the nation to maximize downtown revitalization efforts.

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