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University of Illinois Extension serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell Counties

Tazewell County
1505 Valle Vista Blvd
Pekin, IL 61554-6245
Phone: 309-347-6614
FAX: 309-347-5472
Email: uie-fmpt@illinois.edu
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed Noon - 1 pm)

Fulton County
15411 N IL 100 Highway
Lewistown, IL 61542-9468
Phone: 309-547-3711
FAX: 309-547-3713
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed Noon - 1 pm)

Mason County
127 S High St, Ste 1
Havana, IL 62644-1496
Phone: 309-543-3308
FAX: 309-543-6239
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed Noon - 1 pm)

Peoria County
4810 North Sheridan Rd
Peoria, IL 61614-5928
Phone: 309-685-3140
FAX: 309-685-3397
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed Noon - 1 pm)

Community and Economic Development

Community and Economic Development

Transformational Peoria Stormwater Farm Demonstrates Power of Connecting Design Thinking and Public Health Outcomes

On Oct. 26, the city of Peoria broke ground on a pilot project transforming vacant land on the city’s south side into a “stormwater farm” that will help manage chronic sewer overflows impacting low-income neighborhoods, while enhancing community health.

The effort is the culmination of more than a year of engagement and dialogue across a broad and diverse set of stakeholders, supported by a group of students and faculty from the University of Illinois School of Architecture and University of Illinois Extension, working with the city of Peoria’s Innovation Team.

Extension Educator Kathie Brown, based in Peoria, facilitated meetings between students and community members. “The students gain so much from these interactions. They talk to people from all walks of life – neighborhood residents, local engineers, and architects – people they don’t usually hear from as a part of classwork,” said Brown. “Extension can enrich the campus experience because of this collaborative engagement with the community.”

Students from several areas of study worked closely with the city to help groups of community members and diverse stakeholders think through solutions to Peoria’s stormwater infrastructure issues, starting with “How do we use design solutions to improve public health?”

Students used what they heard to design concepts for different ways to address the challenges, which went through further community input and refinement. The outcome was a set of solutions derived from the community and built around consensus on priorities — in the case of the south side stormwater farm, this meant creating a project that went beyond solving sewer overflows to include features such as urban agriculture and job training programs.

Brown says this collaboration is a boon to Peoria. “I always feel excited about the opportunity to engage with [University of Illinois] campus members because of the new ideas they bring to community groups, and the expertise they offer to help communities grapple with these tough issues.”

The Peoria project is an example of a growing national movement to connect design solutions to public health outcomes. The U of I is a member of the Design and Health Research Consortium, a collaboration of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) to advance university-led research in the area of design and health.

The collaboration between University of Illinois Extension and the College of Fine and Applied Arts is part of the Designing Healthy Communities Initiative, funded through the University of Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative, with support from the University of Illinois Office of the Provost and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. 

In the News

On October 26, a special groundbreaking ceremony was held for a "stormwater farm" in downtown Peoria. The effort is the culmination of more than a year of engagement and dialogue-building across a broad and diverse set of stakeholders that was supported by a group of students and faculty from the University of Illinois School of Architecture and University of Illinois Extension, working with the city of Peoria's Innovation Team.

Community and Economic Development Educator Kathie Brown was instrumental in facilitating the engagement between campus, Extension, and the City of Peoria.

Read more of the story here.

Questions? Contact Kathie Brown, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development at brownlk@illinois.edu

Featured Websites

Local Resources and Information

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    This report represents a collaborative effort between Canton Main Street, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension. The assessment was conducted in the summer of 2014 to provide technical assistance for revitalization efforts in Canton,Illinois. The aim of this analysis is to guide downtown economic development initiatives.

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  • Healthy Neighborhood Revitalization PDF
    Healthy Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy provides a focus on improving mental and physical health for the Near North East Bluff Neighborhood in the city of Peoria. The study looked at effects that neighborhood quality,housing quality, housing affordability, social capital and green space have on mental and physical health.

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    The goal of this planning study is to comprehend, summarize, and catalyze the City of Peoria’s growing interest in improving their local food system, specifically within the South Side neighborhood,through economic strategies targeted at supporting a healthy community.

  • Resilient Downtown - Canton PDF
    Canton recently participated in a North Central Regional Center for Rural Development study exploring factors related to a community's success in creating a resilient and vibrant downtown. The Resilient Downtowns Case Study Series was designed to highlight best practices regarding small-town downtown development through the creation of community case studies. The project’s multi-state team consisted of Extension Educators and Specialists from University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin.

  • Safe Routes to Learn & Play PDF
    University of Illinois Extension working in partnership with UIUC Graduate Students in Urban and Regional Planning examined aspects of the built environment in East Bluff, a neighborhood in Peoria, as part of the Designing Healthy Communities Initiative. The Designing Healthy Communities Initiative is funded by Office of the Provost and College of ACES Illinois Extension and Outreach Initiative, and is partnered with the City of Peoria. The focus was to analyze and then improve neighborhood and school connectivity to parks, playgrounds, and open play spaces. The culmination of the project was the creation of a Safe Routes to Learn and Play plan. This plan is a combination of the National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and Safe Routes to Parks, linked in their goal of increasing safe, active transportation in children. Active transportation focuses on walking and biking, and the plan looks at the infrastructure, such as sidewalks, lights, and curbs, as well as non-infrastructure issues such as education and perceptions. Safe Routes are important in promoting community health and fitness, and creating a safer built environment for all. The plan focuses on the corridors between Glen Oak Primary School and Glen Oak Park. We looked at the pedestrian and bike infrastructure using walkability tools and community input sessions, and analyzed data such as crashes, sidewalk locations, and the demographics of the area. Using the community input and data, the plan laid out recommendations for infrastructure improvements and education and encouragement programs. Also included are designated ‘safe routes’ for travel to the school and to the park.

  • Washington Historic Preservation Ordinance PDF
    Adopted at the April 4th Washington City Council meeting, this document identifies all historic properties and includes the text of the Design Guidelines.

  • Washington Square Commercial Historic District Design Review Guidelines PDF
    These guidelines were prepared in conjunction with the historic district nomination to guide future exterior changes to the buildings that constitute the local historic district. The guidelines build off of previous characteristics that the City mentioned as important in their prior preservation ordinance, explains those in more detail, and adds more detailed elements that will guide property owners and the Historic Preservation Commission in decisions for future changes within the square.

  • Washington Square Commercial Local Historic District Resource Book PDF
    The purpose of this final document is to assist property owners within the historic district to make decisions regarding changes to their structure, and have a document to consult to find experts in the preservation field. In addition to lists of contractors, consultants, and other experts, it includes a variety of the Preservation Briefs published by the National Park Service that explain important elements of historic buildings and give advice on how to maintain these elements, with or without an expert.

  • Will You Play in Peoria PDF
    UIUC School of Architecture developed a Southside Peoria Community Strategy which included a guide "Build Your Own Neighborhood - A Kit of Parts".

  • Will You Play in Peoria - Illustrations & Maps PDF
    UIUC School of Architecture studio workshop illustrations and maps.

  • Will You Play in Peoria Rescaling of the South Side Neighborhood PDF
    UIUC School of Architecture through a studio workshop, created a proposal to address the current lack of resources for children in the South Side neighborhood of Peoria. Currently, most children do not have access to any community resources outside of their schools. When this lack of available resources is combined with a high perception of crime, it results in most children being confined to the indoors.

Additional Topics

4-H Youth Development Horticulture Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Environment and Energy Stewardship Leadership and Local Government Commercial Agriculture Local Food Systems and Small Farms Nutrition and Wellness Schools Online