Right now Mount Carroll is in the middle of an ongoing debate — where should the city build a new community center funded by the William Davis Trust?
The discussion centers on a number of sites, costs, protection of trees in Shimer Square, parking and perhaps the addition of a childcare center. However, there has been little discussion of the overall effects on the city.
If the Davis Community Center is built out on the highway (Illinois 64), that is just one more reason to simply drive through or bypass the business section of Mount Carroll. It will drive another nail in the coffin.
Another problem is that the proposed community center is really a sports center, focusing on student sports and ignoring the wishes and needs of the rest of the community.
There are no plans for art rooms, music rehearsal rooms or performance spaces. There are minimum plans for meeting rooms. The argument is that here and there, scattered across the city, are other meeting spaces.
I picture the Davis Community Center and the residential units of Shimer Square as a win-win situation. Hundreds of new residents would be attracted in part by the community center.
Residents can walk across the square and do their morning exercises, play a game of pickup basketball or take a swim, walk home, get dressed and go to the new brew pub or Henry's for lunch.
It could become a satellite for HCC adult-ed classes, a home for book clubs, play reading groups, the Master Gardeners, canasta clubs, etc. Residents on Clay Street will be walking up and down the street, coming and going to the community center and all the other opportunities planned for Shimer Square.
If Mount Carroll begins to turn around, city property values will go up and not continue to slide. People will want to move here. Other people will want to stay here. Older people might want to stay here, sell their homes and move into Shimer Square. More shops and eateries in Shimer Square and downtown will attract more tourists. Molly's will have to expand.
Freeport and Galena both have provided a variety of residential options to keep and attract seniors. It's time Mount Carroll did the same. Housing is half the picture. The Davis Community Center right across the square is the other half of the picture.
Chuck & Patty Wemstrom