Metro-East News

Mascoutah and Columbia both stand poised for growth

A new home stands under construction in the Indian Prairie subdivision in Mascoutah.
A new home stands under construction in the Indian Prairie subdivision in Mascoutah. Casey Bischel

As Scott Air Force Base grows, so grows Mascoutah. There are 500 more people there in 2015 than there were in 2010, bringing the town just south of the military base to 8,000, according to a yearly update in U.S. Census population numbers.

Cody Hawkins, Mascoutah’s city manager, attributes the growth to good schools, two of which — the high school and one of the grade schools — are relatively new, and a middle school that was recently renovated. Mascoutah School District’s Wingate Elementary School located in Shiloh opened at the beginning of this school year.

For a town with that much growth, however, it’s been difficult to keep up at times.

“(Substantial growth is) definitely challenging for a smaller or medium-sized municipality,” Hawkins said, explaining that the influx of people put stress on the city’s infrastructure and public employees.

Over last several years, Mascoutah has been planning for future growth, Hawkins said. Specifically, it has focused on updating and installing water and sewer lines, and it has submitted plans to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a new sewer treatment plant.

Growth there has risen so precipitously that the city will be conducting a special census to get even more accurate numbers, as Hawkins and others believe Mascoutah has grown even faster than Census projections. The special census will cost the town about $103,000, but, Hawkins said, it will be better funded from correct numbers.

Hawkins said that a public works official, who tracks obituaries and occupancy permits, puts Mascoutah’s population at 8,700.

The housing market has also picked up in some places in the metro-east, according to the Census Bureau.

Before the Great Recession, which began in 2008, Hawkins said there were more than 100 new home starts a year. As the Recession crept into Mascoutah, that declined, and in 2015, there were around 40 starts. Now, though, the market is coming back.

St. Clair County housing units grew 2.25 percent, from about 116,000 to 119,000, though it was Monroe County that saw the most growth in the state since 2010, according to the U.S. Census.

Housing units there grew by almost 3.5 percent, beating out Champaign County, which took second place at 3.3 percent growth.

“Business has been good,” said Tom Heintz of ELI Homes, in Columbia, Ill., adding that he hasn’t built a home smaller than 2,400 square feet in three years.

Heintz’s analysis is hopeful for home-builders like him. Customers who were discouraged from building by the Great Recession, which began in 2008, are finally unloading their money, which they’ve had to sit on for years as the economy improved, he said.

Despite his upbeat attitude, Heintz was also affected by the economic earthquake. Before the Great Recession, Heintz said he had four employees, but now, no one works for him.

Heintz attributes home growth in general to people who want to move out of cities and go to areas where there are good schools.

Casey Bischel: 618-239-2655, @CaseyBischel

Biggest growth:

2010 Census Population

2015 Population Estimate

Percent Change

Mascoutah

7,483

7,975

6.57%

Maryville v

7,487

7,902

5.54%

Waterloo

9,811

10,236

4.33%

Edwardsville

24,293

24,992

2.88%

O'Fallon

28,281

29,002

2.55%

Negative growth:

2010 Census Population

2015 Population Estimate

Percent Change

Pontoon Beach

5,836

5,637

-3.41%

Greenville

7,000

6,666

-4.77%

Centreville

5,309

5,027

-5.31%

Belleville

44,478

42,034

-5.49%

Cahokia

15,241

14,402

-5.50%

  Comments