Being born and raised in Rock Island, I have always had an interest in the city's well being. I believe that my 40-plus years as a Rock Island businessman with the ability to work with diversity and my conservative cautious attitude and spending ideas are currently right to help the city improve, grow and prosper.
We need a thoughtfully designed, fiscally responsible budget that allows for rebuilding of our infrastructure with improvement of city services through diligence by city administration and city employees, cutting both waste and poor performance. We need conscientious thought when spending city funds.
Spending millions of dollars to move 11th Street businesses out of the way for a Walmart that has not yet committed to a Rock Island store is a mistake. I also think that this type of large retail would be better suited in another Rock Island location, such as the Blackhawk Road corridor that does not have two schools and ARC of the Quad Cities Area within a one block radius Blackhawk Road also has in place a newly improved four-lane highway to handle the traffic generated. Eleventh Street revitalization is right for the city, but moving businesses out in hopes of bringing business in seems rather shortsighted.
As mayor I would have been in the position to point out to the broker and the Fareway development group that any building the age of Audubon School is likely to have asbestos and lead paint issues. It also occurs to me that the 24th Street Country Market location, also with environmental issues, may still be a better choice for Fareway.
The city has a program to assist with environmental clean up so long as you are not responsible for the hazard.
Needless to say, this location will need to be cleaned before any use is possible, but with city and Fareway cooperation, this could become a win. It's also clear that the residents surrounding Audubon don't want this store and most citizens would like to see a grocery store return to 24th Street. As mayor, I would have been more cautious before spending $1 million for the Jumer's Crossing project, although I believe in the vision of assisting Jumer's in remaining competitive with possible land-based casinos in Iowa and the promised revenues from such a development.
I remain concerned that opposition from the City of Milan, the Milan Conservancy, Rock Island Conversation Club, Big Island residents and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may halt this plan from ever coming to fruition. I hear all kinds of news about businesses coming to Rock Island, but no news about businesses leaving. We need creative new ways to attract new business with equal focus on maintaining existing companies so they can expand, prosper and remain in an ever expanding Quad-Cities marketplace.
Rock Island needs to concentrate efforts on our most valuable resource, our young people. We need to encourage them to become involved in existing youth programs. We should be equally focused on creation of good paying jobs and career opportunities for local students upon completion of their education.
In closing, I would just like to say, I don't believe the mayor should claim to have all the answers, but rather the right questions and that successful government comes from an open dialogue between city administration and the citizens.
I am Rick Cassini. I am seeking election for Mayor and I remain "Focused on Our Future."
Thank you. Rick Cassini is owner of Cassini Tile & Marble Co. in Rock Island.