Showing posts with label East Bluff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label East Bluff. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2013

The changing face of Peoria's East Bluff Neighborhoods

Mural on wall across from Glen Oak Community Center.
Click images to enlarge
Grocery store across the street from
Glen Oak Community Center
If you live on the East Bluff, it would be difficult to miss how rapidly our neighborhoods are changing. A quick drive through on most days, you will see that several Hispanic families now reside in the area. Many of them are purchasing homes, are gainfully employed and in my neighborhood, their children attend Catholic Schools.

Not only are Hispanic families moving into the area, so are restaurants and grocery stores:

Excerpts from a 2010 pjstar article:
But there's no denying the Latino community is on the rise in Peoria and statewide.

Across from Glen Oak Community Center
"The growth in Peoria is very rapid, very noticeable and very explosive," said Matthew Hall, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. "Peoria's a growing place, and they (Hispanics) are going to go to places where everyone else is going."

The rapid change means that traditional enclaves like the city's North Valley are expanding to the East Bluff and even across the river and into East Peoria and other parts of Tazewell County.

More restaurants and business have opened that cater to Latinos and the growth has had other effects. 
On Prospect near Springdale Cemetery

Monsignor Paul Showalter of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria said the church has had to adapt to those whose native language is Spanish.

There are now Spanish Masses and three nuns from Mexico who work in the area. The diocese, which covers much of central Illinois, also has Latino priests in areas such as the Quad Cities.

Down the street from the Friendship House *sits Irving Primary School, where principal Michael Barber says they have doubled the number of bilingual classrooms in the four years he has been there. The program starts out with mostly Spanish instruction but moves gradually, over the years, towards more English.

On University, near Children's Home
When asked who these new arrivals are, the answers are broad and diverse. Barber says many of his new students hail from Mexico, Chicago or Georgia. Zavala said that in addition to Mexico, there is a large contingent from Guatemala.

They come seeking the "American Dream," she said, a better life and jobs. Word of mouth and the experiences of friends and family who came here before drives them to Peoria.

Across from Glen Oak
Community School 
Hall said that's not uncommon and indicative of a decades-long trend away from more traditional immigration gateways like New York or Chicago.

"The traditional job openings are just lacking in areas like Chicago. Industries where immigrants were once able to find lots of work, they are just not there anymore. Latinos are continuing to seek out new opportunities," he said.

Another big issue is housing. It's simply cheaper to live here, all agree, than in a bigger city.

*Irving Primary is now closed

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Closing Irving School, random ruminations, with sub-titles

Imagine you are in elementary, going to a school that is part of a fragile, yet closely knit community. A school where the same group of employees and volunteers have come in for years and done whatever they could to make your experience better. A school where EVERY child inside lives in poverty and the only place they can find refuge is in the classroom.

Imagine one day that school closed and you were shifted to a new school; a school where all of the people live in houses that are nicer than yours (you come from the projects) and as a result, they think they are better than you. The sad thing is, you imagine they are better than you.

Closing schools kill neighborhoods
It has been proven locally, there is an alternative to closing schools and forcibly herding children and families. Quest Charter Academy has proven that some old school buildings can be revived. The Board that oversees Quest has collaborated with the City and the County in a way that shows that closing schools doesn't have to happen - renovation may be possible:

Old Loucks School
Renovated Loucks School now Quest

Remember this post about the overcrowding of Glen Oak School? To date, tax payers have not heard back from the District about the solution to the overcrowding, nor has anybody in any position of authority, publicly inquired about the welfare of the students being warehoused. Out of sight - out of mind.

One can't help but wonder whether the classrooms at Lincoln School will now be over crowded.

Population Shift
Notice on the map below, there are no public schools in the lower valley in between Valeska Hinton (special admission only) and Lincoln Middle School. Additionally, there are no public schools in the lower valley in between Lincoln Middle School and Washington Gifted School (special admission only).

Redistricting is complete; the School District has a new boundary map; the City is already working with the Housing Authority; and eventually the families of the children that have been shifted to the schools in the lower valley (below the East Bluff and Glen Oak Park) will follow. 

Developers are salivating, their dream of developing the river front, down the river front trail to the marina, is closer now than it has ever been. Taft and the surrounding areas are well within grasp. Full river front development is potentially on track to being realized, thanks to the cooperation of the School District.

Irving School to close Dec. 21.
The 114-year-old school is finally, actually closing at the end of 2012. Since August, students and staff have been preparing to move to a 20-year-old air-conditioned building with new cafeteria, library, kitchen and computer lab.

On Dec. 21, Irving students will take what amounts to a field trip to their new school. They'll load onto buses, carrying their books and supplies, then unpack them in their cubbies at Lincoln, which will become simply Lincoln School, rather than Lincoln Middle School.

From the beginning of Christmas break to the end, Lincoln will go from a middle school to a kindergarten-through-eighth grade building, approximately doubling to 820 students and 86 teachers and other staff.

The district changed Irving's starting times so students could get accustomed to riding a bus route with Lincoln students. Substitute teachers have been hired to assure each teacher three days to pack and move into a new classroom. When the students move to Lincoln, the caring volunteers will follow them.

Lincoln open house and ribbon-cutting for new addition: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the school, 700 Mary St. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is 6 p.m., followed by a parents' forum with the Superintendent, tours and the open house. Source

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crime scene span: Peoria Heights to the East Bluff

Yesterday my family had to purchase four (4) new tires: two (2) for a 4-wheel drive truck; one (1) for a minivan; and one (1) for a vehicle with special rims.

Overnight on Friday, about 37 vehicle owners (at least that is the number the newspaper gives) woke up to find that the tires on their vehicles had been slashed.

The crime scene spans from the Peoria Heights to the mid-East Bluff (about 14 City blocks). This blog covered the story first. There was no report on any of the local news stations and there was only a blurb about it in the local news paper.

If you drive the area shown in the photo above (click the image to enlarge), you will see vehicles still sitting on flats; some are sitting on jacks; others are on donut wheels. 

Unfortunately, the timing of the vandalism occurred the day after most people have probably begun Christmas shopping. As a result, many will not be able to run out and purchase tires for a vehicle; a vehicle that they may need to get back and forth to work and/or school in.

The vandalism clearly wasn't about money - nothing of value was taken from any of the vehicles. If a group of young thugs were out on the coldest night of the year and thought it would be fun to slash tires - why not go to a dealership and have at it (there are two dealerships in the area)? Why take the chance of going up and down the street in a densely populated, residential neighborhood? The slashing of the tires was clearly an organized activity and yes, it was more than likely done by a gang - but this is not your standard inner city, youth, gang crime. So, who would commit such a crime and why?

The sad thing is, we don't expect to get any answers about what, why or how this happened. Heck, if I hadn't witnessed it, I couldn't conceive the magnitude of the crime, considering it got so little exposure with the local news agencies.

Just one more strike against living in Peoria and the East Bluff (as if a person needed one).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Riggenbach and Gulley getting their ducks in a row?

Do the newly approved District Maps hint at a renewed vigor from the folks who live on the East Bluff and in Southtown to make sure they are represented by the people who will best support their interests?

The fight that the District 1 and District 3 Councilmen put up for the new maps show that Gulley and Riggenbach may realize that the time is NOW to answer to their constituents... finally.

The new map puts the City on the hook to make sure that there is some growth in District 1 and District 3. Unnfortunately, Councilwoman VanAuken was hoping to get in on some of that power growing North...

By a 6-5 vote, the council settled on what has been labeled "Map B." Spain, Van Auken, Ardis, and Councilmen Gary Sandberg and Bill Spears voted against Map B. Voting in favor were Gulley and Council members Chuck Weaver, Beth Akeson, Timothy Riggenbach, Dan Irving and Eric Turner.

The vote also comes about 13 months after the map-making process was first introduced with more than two dozen versions drafted and multiple meetings with sometimes passionate discussions. Source

Monday, July 19, 2010

Armed robber at East Bluff Family Dollar Store

There was an armed robbery at the East Bluff Family Dollar Store on Wisconsin Avenue at around 3:15 p.m. this afternoon. The suspect, which was a heavy set female, dressed as a male, had a semi-automatic handgun and took all of the money from the cash register drawer and fled on foot.

My thought - taking all of the money from one register at this store, probably got the robber no more then twenty one dollar bills - imagine her disappointment when she gets home and counts the loot. Clown.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Murder in the Glen Oak School Impact Zone

The Glen Oak Neighborhood Impact Zone, a two-block area in the East Bluff – the city's top target area for crime reduction, neighborhood revitalization and home improvement assistance, surrounding District 150’s new $25 million Glen Oak School.

Last night’s East Bluff murder at Peoria Food Stop Inc., took place immediately across the street from the new Glen Oak School (one block from the Boy's and Girl's Club).

The Glen Oak Neighborhood Impact Zone was identified by the City Council in May 2009 to be targeted for revitalization. The city designated millions of dollars in public investment, with more than $3 million in sidewalk and road projects already completed.

The City has already noted that there has been very few applications for down payment assistance to purchase a home near Glen Oak School. This murder in the Impact Zone certainly won’t help the situation. Unfortunate.

Related read: A Matter of Time

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So many sirens...

This morning at about 2:30 I couldn't sleep, so I get up to get some lemonade. I walk by the window and I hear so many sirens it startled me. I just knew I could look out the window and the sky would be lit up with flashing lights. I rush to the window and nothing. I open the kitchen door just to double check I wasn't hearing things. Yep, crazy, loud sirens - right over there. I go to the Internet and check, nothing.

First thing this morning, I start checking the newspaper and the Internet - nothing. What happened on the East Bluff early this morning - why so many sirens? Must have been a massively false alarm...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Neighborhoods throughout Peoria are crying out

This past Wednesday, a known felon was arrested at an East Bluff home (1123 E. Elmhurst Ave) and booked on charges of possession of weapons by a felon, possession of a controlled substance and possession and delivery of marijuana. Five other people were also arrested in connection to the case. I read about the "central Peoria drug bust" on two local blogs at least a day before information appeared in the Peoria Journal Star.

This felon had about two pounds of marijuana, 45 grams of cocaine, eight rocks of crack cocaine, body armor and five guns and was able to bail out by paying $3,000.

Most Peorians first got the story about the drug bust from the news reports of a news conference held in front of the Police Department, by Mayor Ardis and five members of the City Council. State's Attorney, Kevin Lyons feels that the news conference was politically motivated. Is it a coincidence that the Mayor and these same five members of the City Council endorsed Lyons' opponent for State's Attorney, Darin LaHood?

I am glad the Mayor's Office is showing that they intend to hold somebody accountable for crime in Peoria, but shouldn't that person be the Police Chief?

From my neighborhood, the news conference looks shady. Don't we read daily about the murders, serial rapists, drug busts, muggings, robberies, guns, and hookers on the East Bluff? Where is our news conference? Our neighborhood association, in cooperation with surrounding neighborhood associations are active. City Council members and police officers regularly show up to speak at our meetings. We have set up neighborhood watches, we call the code enforcers, we turn people in, we are fighting for our neighborhood. Where is our news conference? How did our feelings of desperation escape the Mayor and City Council? You don't think it's because we are South of Forest Hill do you?