If we are going to increase city revenue, we must fill the empty buildings in the downtown-central west (Sixth Street to Lindenwood) area. A true Belleville Business Assistance Program (BBAP) is a start. More sales tax keeps our property taxes down.
BBAP is working in cooperation with local banks to provide low-interest loans to restore buildings to proper codes and solicit a true mixture of retail, dining and office businesses for targeted clientele.
Belleville made an investment with the downtown treescape and we need business development to gain a return on our investment. While adequate parking and parking meters has always been a debatable issue; I believe the focus should be on making shopping and customers' experience more unique.
One idea: Bring old-fashioned-looking trolley cars to the downtown-west-central area. These cars would travel from East Main-Carlyle to Lindenwood, free of charge, so visitors could use one parking spot and have easy mobility to all the storefronts.
We need stores that focus on children, college students, military and women in coordination with our fine existing businesses. We could establish a safe children's room at the library and city Facebook for constant social media interaction on all events.
Planned events with local musicians, artists, dancers and others who want to display their talent free of charge could create a family environment that is fun. With the historic feel that is ever present in Belleville, we can make downtown a place of destination.
Joseph W. "Joe" Hayden
Alderman, Ward 5
Candidate for mayor