DeKALB – Some changes may be brewing in the City of DeKalb’s wards boundaries, following the recent release of 2020 U.S. Census data for the city.
The DeKalb City Council voted, 8-0, during its Monday meeting to approve suggested redistricting changes in the city’s seven wards as outlined in the proposed map drafted by Doug Eaton, the City’s Planning Technician and GIS specialist according to city documents.
DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said the main differences include more blurred ward boundaries between Wards 1 and 7, 2 and 3, 5 and 6, and Wards 1 and 2. He told aldermen Monday that “it’s incumbent upon us to try to aim for population across each of the seven wards that would average about 5,756.”
“The challenge here is to not run the lines through a living room or down a duplex,” Nicklas said, “and also to recognize that we can’t be perfect in this and that we are going to do our very best to have approximate equality in our population in these wards.”
Per Illinois state law, a city’s political wards must be nearly equal in population.
According to city documents, the City of DeKalb’s population went down 8.6% from the 2010 U.S. Census to the 2020 census. The new census data set shows the current DeKalb population is at 40,290 – 3,805 less people from 2010.
“Most of the population was lost in Ward 6,” with a deficit of 2,060 residents, according to city documents.
Residence halls on Northern Illinois University’s campus are located within Ward 6, including New Hall and Grant Hall.
Douglas Hall, one of two former five-story residence halls which began housing students in 1963, closed to on-campus students after May 2014. It was demolished shortly thereafter as part of a $4.5 million plan to extend Lucinda Avenue west to Stadium Drive, making it a major east-west thoroughfare on campus.
Lincoln Hall, the second five-story building which opened its doors to students in 1962, fully closed as a residence hall in 2013.
Nicklas said if the council agrees the proposed map is “reasonably fair,” a deciding vote on the map could occur in a future meeting.
“Some of you establish relationships in your ward with ... businesses or residents,” DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes told aldermen. “If you really felt strongly about wanting to maintain those, this is the time to express that – otherwise, we’ll just move forward.”
DeKalb County recently saw a population decrease of thousands of residents overall, dropping from 105,160 in 2010 to 100,420 in 2020, according to U.S. Census data. While DeKalb saw a population decrease of thousands, Sycamore’s population increased by about 1,000 from 2010 to 2020, according to census data.
First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Morris said she thought the proposed map “looks great.” She said some of the boundary shifts done with the first ward “look like [staff] deliberately acknowledged some of the more natural ways that the roads flow.”
“It’s just more logical this way,” Morris said.