Marseilles seeks beautification volunteers

New committee to advise on downtown cleanup, restoration

Ryan's Eatery stands on Main Street in downtown Marseilles.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the city of Marseilles is in search of some active beholders to help it create beauty downtown.

The city is looking for volunteers to serve on what soon will be a new part of its government, a committee focused on the beautification, restoration and preservation of the downtown business area as well as the rest of the city.

Anyone that’s interested would surely be welcome.”

—  Marseilles Mayor Jim Hollenbeck

Mayor Jim Hollenbeck said the city has had three people already agree to take part, and they and any other interested parties will be appointed to the new committee once City Attorney Mike Fuller has completed the ordinance and other legal paperwork to create it.

“It’s not like we’re going door to door and knocking, but anyone that’s interested would surely be welcome,” Hollenbeck said. “All they have to do is contact me, any of the city commissioners or the girls at city hall. We’ll review them, screen them and see who would be the best fit for what we want to do.

“We’re very fortunate to have had so many volunteers help to fix up Main Street. Right now, it looks the best it ever has, and we want to do more things. For that, it’s important to have a plan laid out, not to do things in a hodgepodge manner, and that’s what the committee will help determine.”

Hollenbeck said Marseilles will be contracting with the Hitchcock Design Group, a landscape architecture firm in Naperville, to create that plan or at least update the last one it had from more than 20 years ago. The committee would be on hand to advise and help organize the effort.

It also will be applying for a grant next year to help finance the work, and having the committee in place to advise and organize by then should boost the city’s chances.

Hollenbeck also is hoping to get the businesses around town involved in a significant way.

The last time there was a committee, it was an unofficial ad-hoc group formed during the mayoral administration of the late Patti Smith. That one had 12 members, but Hollenbeck feels a smaller, odd-numbered group of five, seven or nine would fit nicely.

“Many hands make light work, they say,” Hollenbeck said. “It’s been our goal for a long time, to get Main Street fixed up. That’s why we started the TIF district three years ago, to get some tax money toward that.

“We’ve put some garbage cans up there, and now they’re looking at some benches, which are both good ideas, but there are major renovations needed up there, too. We need new sidewalks, new roads, new modern street lighting. We need to do our sewer and water – I can’t imagine when those mains were put in, maybe the 1920s or ‘30s. And very few building are handicapped accessible, so we have to fix that, too.

“Those would be great things to have to add to what’s already been done on Main Street. Then it would look extremely nice. … That’s our goal.”