A community just seems to do better when you can find its heart. A public square, a fountain, an amphitheater, a marketplace, a park or something that gives the community a focus and its residents a place to gather.
Belleville, Collinsville and Lebanon in recent history invested heavily to spruce up the hearts of their communities. Now O’Fallon is working on more public space around its older retail district. Shiloh is conducting a study and residents are saying they want a town square or a similar heart for the village where residents can gather, shop and have fun.
People are realizing that social media is not very social. They want a coffee shop where people gather to talk rather than stay isolated with their screens. They want an area where they can walk their pets and greet neighbors.
Communities boost taxes through sprawl, but the desire for a center is as old as humans gathering around a fire.
Shiloh and O’Fallon will serve their residents well by pursuing these projects. Fairview Heights could also benefit from creating a city center.