To the Editor:
The history of College Town Partners is a legacy of secrecy and obfuscation.
In November 2011, the city of DeKalb adopted the Ellwood Historic Implementation Plan. The residents of the Historic North Fifth Ward (this includes John Street and Harrison Avenue) have long attempted to work with the city but have found the city an unwilling partner. Often the city has withheld tax increment financing funding to repair streets and sewers, I believe this was to create intentional “blight”.
The Preserve Our Neighborhoods group has received significant Freedom of Information Act material. In this material is a descriptive letter (Bill Nicklas 12/16/2013 to Doug Baker and Ron Walters ) to explain the College Town Partners, NFP (an actual entity) and College Town Partners, LLC to John Butler and Marc Strauss of the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees. Here is an excerpt describing the origins of this concept:
“The revised downtown plan had its origins in a ‘summit’ of NIU and local community leaders in the early fall of 2012. A particular focus of that summit was the tired and underdeveloped neighborhood bounded by NIU’s east lagoon on the west, Lincoln Highway on the south, Harrison Street on the east, and College Avenue to the north. The participants – which included City of DeKalb officials, several prominent local bankers, DeKalb school officials, and NIU representatives – agreed to take a closer look at possible redevelopment of this area. As a result of the summit, the City of DeKalb tasked its planning staff to consider new uses for this provisional project area which contains about 40 lots. This involved detailing the floodplain limits, identifying tax parcel numbers, estimating property values, and estimating the cost of acquiring and razing many of the present structures, along with related relocation expenses.
“The DeKalb 2020 Prospectus (see attached), initially circulated in September 2012 and revised in March, 2013, was the result. Many of the Fall 2012 summit participants were involved in the downtown planning sessions coordinated by the SAA Design Group, which the City of DeKalb hired to develop the revised downtown plan in the winter of 2012-2013.”
It is clear to the residents of the collar neighborhoods that our personal property rights are subjugated to the will of wealthy individuals such Tim Struthers and Stephen P. Irving. It is also clear that Mayor John Rey only responds to wealth and power.