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Jacksonville Ill. Celebrates

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Jacksonville, Ill. old town square (Flickr.com)

Jacksonville, Ill. old town square (Flickr.com)

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JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (IRN) – The City of Jacksonville is celebrating its town square this weekend.

After several years of hard work, Jacksonville’s town square is back. Where did it go? It was replaced in the 1970s with a plaza. Tom Grojean, chairman of the Downtown Turnaround Project, says Jacksonville made a decision to do away with the town square, but has since decided to change it back.

“Many communities, the downtowns were failing financially and there was money at the time …they took the traditional square and made it to a plaza and tore a bunch of buildings down, put parking on the outside parimeter of the buildings and made a plaza in the center and it never really worked,” Grojean said. He says the success of the plaza fell over the next two decades. In 2005 the city was able to secure federal funding to transform the plaza back into a town square. As the project came closer to completion, Grojean says business has been good for retailers located there.

“We’ve already seen a huge increase in traffic and a total reinvigoration of our downtown shopping and restaurants and also apartment living areas,” Grojean said.

The city will dedicate the new town square at 1 p.m. today (Saturday). There will be a celebration of sorts including a Ferris wheel – Jacksonville is home to one of the earliest Ferris wheel makers – and the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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