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Second Round of Springfield Ward Meetings Set

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Springfield will be kicking off a second round of ward meetings to update residents about what has improved in the capital city since last year.

The city has been focused on improving communication with neighborhoods and bettering road conditions – two of the major complaints out of November's ward meetings.

The city has been creating a capital improvements plan for some of the large scale projects but the funding just isn't there right now.

Dozens of pages of suggestions compiled into a 30-plus page document to improve Springfield.

Ideas from residents in the city's ward meeting forum held last winter in Springfield's 10 wards.

Round two will kick off in late August and the city will update each ward on improvements.

“I have taken probably about 80 percent of the suggestions that have been given,” said Julia Frevert, the city’s communications director.

A lack of communication to the neighborhoods was the most common complaint, but the city said it now sends out weekly emails to Springfield's 50-plus neighborhood associations about events and services.

“I think it helps people feel safer and secure in their neighborhoods when they know what's going on,” said Carrie Becker, who is the president of the Historic West Side Neighborhood Association.

Another focus was on Public Works. The Franklin Park Neighborhood Association President Don Hunt said the city quickly fixed one of his complaints – the steep drop-off just off Hazell Dell Road. It previously gave drivers no room for error if the road were slick.

“The city sent out an engineer and we talked and showed him what our concern was and they addressed it immediately,” said Hunt.

Some issues remain.

“The sidewalk issue. Cook Street. Dirksen on the golf course side,” said John Woods about the lack of sidewalks. “Where can people walk?”

Synchronizing traffic signals and major road overhauls require a massive boost in funding, which the city doesn't have.

Public Works Director Mark Mahoney said state and federal money isn't always available, an issue he'll be addressing at this month's ward meetings.

A sales tax increase is one option.

“Really it's going to come to a discussion of a policy-decision from our elected officials how do we fund this capital improvement plan that has come up through the ward meetings,” said Mahoney.

The city said we’ll be learning more details about potential costs for this capital improvements plan at the ward meetings.

The schedule has not been finalized for all the wards yet, but as soon as that's ready we'll make sure to let you know.

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