OPINION

Letter to the Editor - Orion needs your input to grow

Geneseo Republic
Kids love playing in a splash pad.

Dear Editor,

How does a small town grow and attract new residents? According to the village minutes Orion has lost 5.7% of its population on the most recent census. Having worked in leasing in the QC when someone is relocating to the area, they always consider the same things. What is the feel of the community and what are the local amenities are two top questions. Right now, we have the perfect opportunity to help our town grow, attract new residents and help our local businesses. If you haven’t heard, the village bought several acres adjacent Love Park a few years back but other than a small parking lot have nothing planned for the space.

In August the board was approached about adding new amenities into the parks that would fill a need for residents, but also draw people from towns that don’t have access to these amenities. Suggestions made included a splash pad, dog park, 9-hole frisbee golf course, butterfly garden, integrating art in the form of sculptures, murals, photo ops into the parks and other beautification projects. Since August residents on social media have suggested finishing sidewalks around the entire park, a community garden, more hang outs spaces and a multi-use sports field. There is a need for a long-term master plan for our parks.

When I was growing up in Orion, we had some additional businesses that filled the need for family activities and amenities near or in town. There was a time kids could take a bus from Central Park to Hillcrest to swim for the day. Hillcrest had camping, swimming, golf, food and a pavilion for parties. During that same period, the bowling alley was widely used. It had the diner, bowling leagues, bar, and a party room. 

Now the village can’t replace those businesses, but what it can do is integrate some family and group activities back into our parks. There is a definite need from residents for activities. Right now, so many residents leave town for them. There are water activities nearby in Cambridge, Geneseo, Galva, and Milan. Disc golf and dog parks in other small towns like ours. But why have families leave Orion to go to another town for something they could do here? When I go to these other towns I usually stop in stores and eat at a nearby business. Our residents could be socializing, building our community and spending their money here in town. We need to be able to compete!

There are residents willing to fundraise for the construction of some amenities and a couple of businesses that have expressed interest in helping make this happen. The village asked for feedback on the new land in the September Nosey Neighbor. Have you sent your email in? Please, email the village your support of a master plan for Orion Parks at vclerk@orionil.org.

Sincerely,

Jenny Eckhardt

Orion