Emerson Park Neighborhood Revitalization Plan

[ Contents ]



A. Analysis of Neighborhood Strengths and Weaknesses

The Emerson Park 1999 Neighborhood Revitalization Plan is driven on the strengths and weaknesses of Emerson Park. These strengths and weaknesses were identified through 132 interviews, community meetings, Census data, land use and infrastructure surveys, and archival information. From all these sources, ten strengths and ten weaknesses were repeatedly identified as being at the heart and soul of Emerson Park. These issues form the foundation of the Revitalization Plan and thus, are summarized below.

Neighborhood Strengths

1. Location and access to jobs and services

Emerson Park’s close proximity to I-64, Interstate 55/70, as well as St. Louis, Missouri makes it an economically viable area for redevelopment. The neighborhood is only ten minutes from the central business district of East St. Louis, which allows residents easy access to government services and commercial businesses. It is similarly close to the waterfront, which has been the site of recent economic development. The area is now home to the Casino Queen riverboat, which draws clientele from southern Illinois, as well as Missouri. The area is also serviced by the #555 bus service, which connects the 5th and Missouri Metro Link station and Bus Transfer with Cahokia Mounds State Park, passing through Emerson Park on its route. The #573 is another bus route that services the neighborhood via 15th Street.

The long awaited introduction of the Metro Link substation in Emerson Park will greatly improve regional transportation by tying the area to St. Louis as well as the outlying collar communities, thereby improving access to regional jobs and social services.

Photo 1:View of Interstate 64 from Emerson Park

2. Strong sense of community

Emerson Park has continually prided itself on its strong sense of community. When asked to identify strengths in the community, 40% of neighborhood residents cited fellow residents as the best element of daily life. The neighborhood is close-knit, and community ties are strong. Almost 25% of Emerson Park’s current residents have lived in the area for sixteen to twenty years. This longevity of residency fosters strong community ties within the neighborhood. The record of community involvement in Emerson Park is impressive, with many long-term residents regularly participating in volunteer work and mutual support activities. Hundreds of lots have been cleaned up in the past ten years. Six neighborhood properties were improved in 1995. With the assistance of EPDC, a community Christmas tree farm and pumpkin patch was created and maintained in the fall of 1996. Cannaday Park was recently rehabilitated with the assistance of residents and University of Illinois volunteers.

3. Improved municipal services

Residents say that police protection and trash pick-up have improved substantially in the past ten years. Garbage pick up service was rated "good" by 54% of residents polled. In 1992, local officials cooperated to reestablish municipal trash collection, which had been halted due to budgetary problems since 1986. The city’s police department has also had recent attention, which has helped decrease the amount of homicides in the city from sixty-five in 1992 to twenty-four in 1996.

The fire department was also commended by residents as an improved municipal service. Reorganization within the department has lead to a general reduction in the number of buildings destroyed annually by fire. Approximately two hundred buildings were destroyed in 1992. That number dropped to thirty by 1996. Fifty-three percent of residents interviewed rated fire protection "good" in the residential survey conducted in February 1998.

4. Availability of neighborhood-based social services

Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, located in the heart of the neighborhood at 1200 N. 13th Street, has been an Emerson Park institution since 1890. It originated as a settlement house supported by the Methodist Church. The center provides afternoon activities for school age children, infant child care, and currently houses the offices of the Emerson Park Development Corporation. The center also sponsors a Welfare to Work program, and is a designated Safe Haven for area school children. In 1997, the Neighborhood House created the Family Development Center, which provides information, counseling, and referrals to families in need of social and economic assistance. Lessie Bates is also a favorite gathering place and meeting area for local residents. Because of its prime location within the neighborhood, demand for its services is increasing rapidly.

City-based religious organizations also provide important social services to people in the Emerson Park neighborhood. The Christian Activities Center, located at 540 N. 6th Street, provides a wide range of services to children and families. The center provides free after school child care from 3:30- 8:30 PM. This program currently serves approximately 260 children. CAC also sponsors a youth athletic league, late night activities twice a week, GED classes, cooking classes for young women on Tuesday evenings, and parenting and child care educational programs. Cultural activities are also available to Emerson Park residents on a limited scale. The Dunham Museum, which is located in the Olivette Park neighborhood at 1005 Pennsylvania Avenue, provides children with exposure to the arts through dance programs and museum tours. The main program currently is the Museum’s Children’s Workshop. Participants in the workshop learn the Dunham technique, created and perfected by Miss Katherine Dunham, a world renown choreographer and long-time East St. Louis resident.

The Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center (NTAC), located at 348R Collinsville Avenue, is yet another important resource for local residents. The center provides technical assistance for individuals and community groups in grant writing, resource inventories and needs assessments, basic financial and management services and conducts various training programs to meet the needs of community residents.

Photo 2: Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and the home of the
Emerson Park Development Corporation, 1200 N. 13th Street

5. Presence of numerous religious institutions

Historically, Emerson Park has had a strong religious tradition. These institutions foster powerful bonds between community residents, and spark the organizing spirit. The recent survey conducted revealed six neighborhood churches in the area. Many of these are actively involved in organizing residents around community issues and providing necessary social services. Area churches should be duly recognized as an important community resource in Emerson Park.

The 15th Street Baptist Church, located at 1314 N. 15th St., currently sponsors a free lunch program for neighborhood residents. On Mondays and Fridays, the church provides free lunches to approximately fifty neighborhood residents. The church feeds over 1500 people per month through this social program. There are plans to expand the program to provide lunch daily to residents. In addition, prayer service and bible classes are offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as weekly worship services and Sunday school on Sunday mornings. Several other churches in the neighborhood serve as strong community gathering places for area residents.

Photo 3: 15th Street Baptist Church, 1314 N. 15th Street

6. New housing investment

Emerson Park is primarily a residential area. Although the number of dwelling units decreased by almost 50% between 1980 and 1990, there still remains a stable core of owner-occupied dwellings in the area. Considerable effort has been made by local residents, the Emerson Park Development Corporation, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, the East St. Louis Housing Authority, the Community Development Block Grant program, and the private firm of Community Planning and Design Associates to improve housing in the area. The neighborhood is steadily rebuilding its quality housing stock and much of the renewed interest in Emerson Park is attributable to the expansion of the Metro Link into the neighborhood. In recent years, these organizations have been responsible for the following housing advances:

Photo 4: New housing development in 1997 by the Neighborhood Based Family Housing Program

7. Availability of reasonably priced, publicly controlled land for redevelopment

Think of what great things we can do with all this empty land…

it’s like a fresh start! – Resident Interview, 6/98

Residents view vacant, publicly owned land as a major opportunity for new growth and development in the neighborhood. A recent land-use survey indicated that 58% of all 1,644 parcels surveyed are currently vacant. These lots are prime areas for redevelopment in the neighborhood. Over 950 lots are vacant, which all too often simply become the prime sites for illegal activity. Land ownership patterns are also a critical piece of information, as publicly owned land can be sold for a nominal amount or transferred to community organizations for redevelopment purposes. St. Clair County, the City of East St. Louis, and the East St. Louis Housing Authority currently own 33% of available land in Emerson Park. These 549 parcels are obvious targets for redevelopment, in the form of neighborhood playgrounds, recreation centers, and new housing construction.

8. Presence of neighborhood-oriented businesses

Emerson Park has several locally owned businesses within the neighborhood boundaries. There are approximately ten active neighborhood businesses. Many of these establishments successfully cater to neighborhood needs. Cherri’s Confectionery, located at 1401 Winstanley Avenue, is frequented by several neighborhood children after school. There are also several locally owned automobile repair and service shops in the neighborhood.

Many more retail opportunities will begin to emerge around the new Metro Link substation. The new line is slated for completion in 2001. If these new businesses are successful, they will be able to attract rail passengers into the neighborhood to use other local businesses.

Photo 5: Lee and Garrett Tires on 9th Street

Photo 6: Cherri’s Confectionery at 1401 Winstanley Avenue

9. Availability of buildings for rehabilitation

The former Cannaday School building located at the corner of 15th and Lake Streets, is an extremely important underdeveloped resource in the area. The school building could be converted into a large community recreation center for children, adults and senior citizens. EPDC could also relocate their offices into the building or the school could reopen as a Charter School or public grade school.

Several occupied but dilapidated houses in the neighborhood have been successfully rehabilitated. Abandoned structures may also be renovated. Of the 124 abandoned structures in Emerson Park, 22% were recently identified as candidates for re-inspection for rehabilitation potential. The neighborhood is filled with spacious bungalow type structures that are desperately in need of rehabilitation. Restoration of these vacant structures will also help deter drug-related crimes and prostitution.

Photo 7: Example of recent bungalow rehabilitation in Emerson Park.

10. Presence of an effective Community Development Corporation (EPDC)

The Emerson Park Development Corporation was originally established by a small group of area residents, under the guidance of Ms. Ceola Davis, long-time community activist and resident in the neighborhood. The group was created in 1985, and proceeded to clean up hundreds of vacant lots that had, over time, created health and safety problems for children and families in the area. Since then, the group has raised over $500,000 for further community development initiatives. It also became recognized as a non-profit corporation by the State of Illinois and a tax-exempt 501c3 organization by the IRS in 1996. The group has a democratically elected board, consisting entirely of neighborhood residents with strong leadership skills. EPDC currently has two professional staff members, and a mailing list of over 150 people.

EPDC consistently strives to enhance the quality of life in the ninety blocks comprising Emerson Park. The group has sponsored numerous lot clean ups, rehabbed seven homes, built four new homes in partnership with the Neighborhood Based Family Housing Program, and constructed the neighborhood’s first community Christmas tree/pumpkin patch. The organization completed the rehab of Cannaday Park in the Spring of 1998 and has partnered with a local development firm in construction plans for 201 new rental housing units.

Neighborhood Weaknesses

1. Population loss

Emerson Park has experienced severe population decline since the 1970s. Its decline has been more severe than the city’s as a whole. Emerson Park lost over half of its residents (54.5%) from 1970 to 1990. The most dramatic decline was experienced between 1980 and 1990. The neighborhood lost 42.6 % of its residents as compared to the city, which lost 25.8 % of its residents. This dramatic decline has been experienced in the context of extreme population growth in the suburban ring surrounding St. Louis. Between 1980 and 1990, towns such as Belleville, Fairview Heights, and Centreville, grew by 4.5%.

Several factors explain the severe decline in Emerson Park. The closing of nine major industries in the city over a short 14 year period, caused the loss of 13,000 jobs city-wide from 1960 to 1990. Many people followed these jobs to the suburbs where they relocated. The increased number of African Americans seeking employment in the city during the 1960s and 1970s caused the "white flight" to the surrounding suburbs by many long-time residents of the city. The African American families left behind were forced to deal with continued disinvestment, housing vacancies, loss of small neighborhood businesses, and failing municipal services due to the loss of property tax revenue.

This dramatic loss of population is a threat to the stability of Emerson Park. A significantly smaller tax base has led to the deterioration of infrastructure and basic municipal services, as stated previously. It has also caused many other problems such as deterioration of housing due to abandonment. These poor conditions make it difficult to attract investment from local lenders or outside parties and to support local businesses.

2. Extensive housing deterioration

Emerson Park experienced a dramatic decrease in the number of housing units over the past decade. The number of occupied housing units also decreased over that time. Since 1980, Emerson Park lost almost half of their dwelling units. In that same time the number of occupied dwelling units also dropped by almost half, according to the U.S. Census. This abandonment of housing and loss of actual structures has left behind many unsafe, dilapidated houses, lots filled with rubble, and overgrown lots.

The homeowners and renters of Emerson Park that are left are spending large percentages of their income on their rent or mortgage. The percentage varies from 35.1% to over 70%. This leaves very little money left over to spend on housing repair and regular maintenance. Many property owners do not keep rental property up to code and these structures deteriorate as well; being milked for maximum profit by not maintaining the building. Fourteen percent of the structures in Emerson Park are either deteriorated or dilapidated according to the Land Use Survey. Absentee property owners have no ties to the community making it easy for them to let their property fall into disrepair. One example of a poorly maintained housing complex in Emerson Park is Central City Homes. Residents of this development consistently sighted the issue of poor maintenance as a threat to the quality of life in Emerson Park. Poor housing conditions discourage investment in the area by local lenders. This includes home improvement loans as well as regular home loans. Poor housing conditions pose a health risk to those who live within the structures. Abandoned structures also pose a serious threat to those living adjacent to them. They provide a safe place for illegal activity and for dumping trash. Vacant, unattended lots with high weeds and trash attract diseased rodents and insects. They not only further discourage investment but they also isolate neighbors from the rest of the neighborhood.

Photo 8: Housing deterioration in Emerson Park awaiting demolition

3. Weak municipal housing demolition program

As of March 1998, Emerson Park had 64 buildings that have been inspected for demolition. The number of these buildings will increase significantly over the years if no action is taken. More structures fall into disrepair each year, but the city demolishes only a certain number of structures in each neighborhood every year, so the numbers increase. These programs are run through the CDBG Office, the Enterprise Zone Office, and St. Clair County. Enforcement of the sanitation and building codes also works to identify and demolish structures. Unfortunately there is only a limited amount of money available for demolition.

4. Drug Related Crime and Prostitution

The Youth Summit and the Neighborhood Summit identified crime and prostitution as a real concern for the residents of Emerson Park. Thirty-nine percent of residents interviewed cited the need to reduce crime in the area. Crime poses a real threat to the stability and safety of Emerson Park. East St. Louis has one of the highest crime rates in the state of Illinois. The high crime discourages people from moving into the neighborhood and discourages local lenders from investing in the neighborhood. The 1997 Crime Index for East St. Louis showed a 5.3% increase in crimes from 1996. Of those crimes included in the Index, motor vehicle theft and murder increased most dramatically. Between 1996 and 1997, vehicle theft increased by an astounding 38%, while murder increased by 25%. On a more positive note, arson and burglary decreased by 3% and 13% respectively.

On a neighborhood level, Central City Homes, located on Bowman, between 13th and 15th Streets, is a serious area for concern. Six fights were reported in the area during the fourth quarter of 1997, along with one aggravated assault and one death. These numbers only account for reported 911 calls to the East St. Louis Police Department. According to residents of Central City Homes, several other violent crimes took place in this area and went unreported.

Photo 9: Structure identified by residents as a known hang out for
illegal activity including drug trafficking and prostitution.

Photo 10: The Hillcrest Motel is viewed as a weakness for its
contribution to prostitution and other criminal activities.

It is also seen as an opportunity because of its access to
Interstates 55/70 and 64 and its sound and attractive design.

5. Lack of Municipal Investment in Street and Infrastructure Maintenance and Repair

The loss of tax base in the city of East St. Louis makes it very difficult for the city to maintain the current infrastructure. The poor condition of many of the streets and sidewalks in Emerson Park, as well as sanitation service is a serious health and safety threat to the community. Many streets flood and have no curbs. Sewer drains have been covered up by Public Works and sidewalks have been neglected, overgrown with grass and weeds. The Community Development Block Grant Operations Corporation commissioned an infrastructure report on the entire city. Emerson Park was identified as a target area due to the installation of the new Metro Link stop. The consulting firm of Horner & Shifrin, Inc., found that 75% of the roads in Emerson Park were in fair to poor condition, 75% of the curbs and gutters were in poor condition, and 100% of the sidewalks were in fair to poor condition. The revitalization of Emerson Park will only occur if the current infrastructure can support new development. Poor streets make it difficult to bring construction vehicles in, and they will only worsen the already fair to poor condition of these streets. Developers look at infrastructure in deciding where to locate their development. The high cost of upgrading infrastructure and building new infrastructure is likely to discourage developers from locating in Emerson Park.

Photo 11: Example of standing water several days after a rain.
Many sewer drains are not able to efficiently carry water off the surface.

6. Lack of Living Wage Jobs

If people had real jobs – they wouldn’t sell drugs to our kids. – Resident interview, 3/98

In 1990, the unemployment rate for the census tract including Emerson Park was approximated at 26%. This rate is significantly higher than the city-wide rate of 14%. The rate is actually a decrease from the previous decade, which could be attributed to a number of factors. Some persons could have given up looking for work or could have found part-time work. This high rate of unemployment is indicative of two main underlying problems. Low levels of education and an extreme disinvestment in the city over the past thirty years contributes to the state of unemployment in the city of East St. Louis. The county, in contrast, has a very low unemployment rate. This indicates that there are jobs available in the county, if one has the transportation and the education. The large percentage of families living in poverty in Emerson Park indicates that those who are employed are in actuality under-employed (i.e. part-time workers).

Welfare reform will affect many people in East St. Louis requiring the unemployed to find work within two to five years. The lack of living wage jobs in the city may cause a huge financial impact on many families in Emerson Park. Poverty conditions have already begun to worsen for these people being impacted by the 1996 Work and Responsibility Act.

7. Limited Neighborhood-based Retail

Residents of Emerson Park expressed dissatisfaction with the availability of basic retail services in their neighborhood and the city. On the average, 94% of the residents who answered the questions said that they do their shopping outside of Emerson Park. They specifically mentioned the lack of grocery stores, laundry facilities, and entertainment facilities in the neighborhood. Many residents said they traveled outside of the city to purchase their groceries and clothing. Forty-seven percent of residents who responded on the survey said that they do their shopping outside of East St. Louis. This increases the money spent on basic goods due to travel expenses, and takes away from potential sales tax revenue the city could receive from local consumer activity.

8. Lack of Animal Control

The City of East St. Louis does not have animal control and the county does not provide adequate services to alleviate the problem. There are many dogs that have no homes and wander the streets of Emerson Park, chasing cars and residents. Many of these dogs do not have any shots and could have any number of diseases they may transfer to humans, constituting a serious health threat to the neighborhood.

9. Lack of Activities for infants/toddlers/pre-schoolers/teenagers/senior citizens

During interviews, when asked what neighborhood needs are most urgent, 53% of respondents said that there needed to be more activities for the youth in the area. The age groups specified were children under 5 years of age and teenagers 13 to 21. Experts agree that involving children in positive activities keeps them safe and allows development of key skills for the future. By creating teen vocational programs, children learn basic skills needed to acquire meaningful employment after graduation. Parents of young children find it very difficult to locate adequate day care. According to the Children’s Home and Aid Society, the current number of daycare facilities is adequate, but the quality of the care could be improved, while not increasing the price. Children not only need high quality care but also need developmentally appropriate care that will nurture and enhance their growth in the absence of parental stimulation. Parents do not feel comfortable going to work if they do not trust the care facilities. Many senior citizens also mentioned that they had no social activities in the neighborhood. Fifteen percent of respondents said that there were no senior activities.

10. High Priced Utilities

In addition to spending a high percentage of their income on housing, residents incur high utility costs that add to the financial strain. Thirty-six percent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their sewer service, ranking it as poor. The utility rate in East St. Louis is not significantly higher than in other areas of Illinois or in St. Clair County. Centreville pays approximately three cents less per 1,000 gallons of water and Champaign pays approximately one cent less per 100 cubic feet of water. This means that the volume of water used by the residents of East St. Louis is significantly greater than that of other communities. This can be attributed to the fact that storm water is not separated from other water in East St. Louis. Emerson Park is located along the highway, which makes its water consumption even larger than other neighborhoods in the city. Residents have also expressed difficulty in affording electricity. These costs are driven up by non-energy efficient structures.

B. Development Goal

Emerson Park in East St. Louis, Illinois has a rich social history and a real commitment to neighborhood improvement. In the twenty-first century, Emerson Park will strive to become a flexible community and stable residential area, attractive to families at various income levels. This can be realized through the implementation of an aggressive economic and social development program emphasizing economic development, new and rehabilitated housing, a strong neighborhood retail base, youth programs, public safety, community organizing and enhanced municipal services. This can be successfully achieved by building strong partnerships between local residents, private institutions such as local banks and business proprietors, and public entities such as the CDBG Office, the Greater East St. Louis Enterprise Community office, the Planning Commission and City Council.

C. Target Program Areas and Objectives

Economic Development

Expand employment and business opportunities for local residents.

Housing Improvement

Encourage reinvestment and expand affordable housing options for renters and owners.

Crime Prevention

Reduce the incidence of drugs, violent crime and prostitution, while improving community-police relations.

Human Services

Respond to the unmet needs of youth and their families and empower all residents.

Zoning, Land Use and Municipal Infrastructure Improvements

Creation of a distinct land use pattern that facilitates growth in housing and retail uses and improves the quality of local infrastructure.

Community Organizing

Empower and involve more residents in the Emerson Park Development Corporation and strengthen the sense of pride and community in the area.

D. Summary of Revitalization Strategies

Each meeting with the neighborhood group was devoted to brainstorming on one or two program areas and the strategies to meet each of the neighborhood’s objectives. The plan includes programs for implementation over the five-year life of the Revitalization Plan. Each of these programs are identified below with their recommended implementation year. A full program description includes a rationale, detailed action steps, participating organizations, possible funding sources, and an itemized budget.

1. Economic Development


Strategy Program Description Begin Implementation

Job Directory and Employment Newsletter

Develop a log of available jobs and job descriptions in the metro area. This log will be available at the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House. Supplement the directory with a newsletter offering information on employment training programs and job types in the area. Send directory out to all residents, hold job fairs, and encourage local business owners to give priority hiring to residents of Emerson Park.

Year 1 - 2

Jobs through Lot Clean-Up


Employ local residents through a city contract to conduct vacant lot maintenance and beautification projects. Phase 2 involves training and employing local youth in the program, utilizing JTPA.



Year 2

Vendor Opportunity Program at the Metro Link


Establish vendors or businesses, owned and operated by Emerson park residents, at the 15th Street Metro Link station. Program involves pad acquisition, training, and business development.


Year 2 - 3

Promoting Retail Investment Program

Assist existing and new businesses in locating funds and technical assistance for expansion and building repairs or upgrades, as well as providing facilitation for cooperative advertising.



Year 3

2. Housing Improvement

Home Ownership / Home Improvement Seminar

Organize a one-day event to provide information on securing low-interest mortgages, home improvement loans, and conducting interior/exterior painting, dry wall repair, major appliance maintenance, landscaping, etc. Representatives will be on hand from local banks, from the Neighborhood Based Family Housing Program, and from other developers working in East St. Louis.




Year 1

Demolition Program

A recent land use survey found 78 vacant structures that should be inspected for demolition. This program documents the dangers to health and safety posed by derelict structures, involves the adjacent land owners, and pressures local and county government and private landowners to demolish these neighborhood threats.




Year 1 - 2

Low Cost Home Improvements



This program divides Emerson Park into concentric zones surrounding Lessie Bates. Each year 5 to 6 homes in need of improvements get rehab grants of up to $25,000 each in that year’s zone.


Year 2

Rehabilitate Abandoned Housing

This program expands Emerson Park’s HOME program to rehab 10 – 15 dilapidated, but structurally sound homes and uses UI Architecture students for technical design assistance. A recent land use survey found 54 vacant structures that should be inspected for rehab potential.




Year 3 - 4

Market Emerson Park

With all the new development headed into Emerson Park, it is a neighborhood objective to attract new residents from a variety of income levels and backgrounds. This aggressive marketing campaign would advertise Emerson Park’s new housing and its transportation improvements.




Year 2 - 3

In-fill New Single and Multi-Family

Develop "in-fill" housing within the neighborhood’s existing nine block residential core through the Neighborhood Based Family Housing Program and Community Development Consultants.



Year 1 - 3

3. Crime Prevention

"Smoke-Out" Drug and Crime Corners


The "Smoke-Out" Drug and Crime Corners program identifies problem areas, brings them to the attention of law enforcement, shows criminals that their behavior is not welcome, and brings residents together to stop crime.



Year 1


This program will advertise the hotlines that are available for residents to anonymously report suspicious criminal activity. Information about the hotline could be spread through local neighborhood canvassing and at monthly EPDC meetings.



Year 1

Expand "Red-Letter" Drug Enforcement Program to Include



This program expands the "red-letter" program to include prostitution sites and also seeks to expand resident involvement in the program. Prostitution is repeatedly identified as a major threat to Emerson Park. This expanded program will allow residents to inform law enforcement of buildings and streets that they suspect are home to prostitution.




Year 1 - 2

New Neighbor Orientation Program

This program seeks to orient newcomers to the neighborhood, teach them about it’s history, introduce them to the local retail, the MetroLink, and other areas of interest, educate them about local crime prevention techniques and home safety, as well as introduce them to the Emerson Park Development Corporation.




Year 1 - 2

Formal Neighborhood Watch Program

The Neighborhood Watch program is a proven success story in communities nation-wide. Several Illinois communities have significantly decreased crime after implementing Neighborhood Watch programs. The program empowers residents, giving them a real sense of control over their community. Neighborhood Watch also instills a real sense of unity between residents, as they work together to keep their streets safe.





Year 2

Crime Prevention through Infrastructure Maintenance and Code Violation Abatement

This program creates a Code Enforcement Task Force of residents and hired local youth that would make monthly rounds of the neighborhood, in search of code and public safety violations. Each problem would be recorded on a form with a detailed description and a photo would be taken of the site. These violations would then be reported to the East St. Louis Police Department and the Department of Regulatory Affairs. With the assistance of the police department and city and county officials, the process for correcting these violations should be expedited.




Year 1 - 3

Police Sub-Station

This program creates a local police office in Emerson Park. The sub-station would allow for local police occupation, more community interaction between law enforcement and residents, and a place for people to go get information on crime prevention. Possible locations include 9th & Exchange, Central City Homes, and 15th Street.




Year 1 - 2

4. Human Services

Early Childhood Development Program

This program addresses the most critical years in a child’s development, the first three, by providing prenatal and postnatal care to parents, comprehensive social services and transitional programs such as Head Start, day care and proper schooling.




Successful in School and Ready for Work

This program expands the hours of operation and the level of services in the Youth in Action Program at LBS. Also, EPDC will coordinate with the Jackie Joyner-Kerseee Boys and Girls Club to provide additional children and youth services.




Increasing Health and Safety of Children and Their Families


This program develops a Comprehensive Individual and Family Support Program to provide case management, advocacy, and support services to all residents in the neighborhood as the new "single point of entry" for accessing needed health care and human services. The program also develops a new Emerson Park Family Development Center to provide space for expanding the agency’s Day Care Services to both existing and new Emerson Park residents.



Parents Working


This program expands the Illinois Job Advantage Program and the Illinois Earnfare Program to assist residents, both youth and adults, in obtaining and maintaining employment. Also, a local business to provide transportation to residents accessing jobs would be developed.



Community Carnival

This program will establish an annual community-wide celebration to be held in Cannaday Park each August. The Carnival will serve to provide an opportunity to publicly recognize community achievements and raise awareness for community programs.



Year 1

Conflict Resolution Classes

This program would pair with Lessie Bates "Safe Haven" program to provide opportunities for youth to learn how to deal with stress, tension, and conflict, non-violently.



Year 2

Urban Agriculture


This program utilizes the long-time experience of local residents in agricultural production, pairs them with creative youth and uses available land to grow and sell fresh food products at the Farmers Market.



Year 2 - 3

Youth Advisory Board


This program assembles a forum of local youth who represent the interests of Emerson Park’s most precious resource. The group would work in collaboration with EPDC. The program includes component areas for recruitment, training, and group development.



Year 2 - 3

Charter School at Cannaday School

Residents say that a weakness of the neighborhood is the lack of quality education close by. This program would rehabilitate Cannaday School as a high-quality neighborhood charter school, following the "new vision" model of community schooling. It is possible for the school to alternatively be reopened as a public institution.




Year 4 - 5

  1. Zoning, Land Use and Municipal Infrastructure Improvements

New Zoning for Emerson Park


This new zoning proposal eliminates locally undesirable land uses, reduces the number of incompatible land uses, re-allocates land based upon current and future housing demand, integrates housing types and creates commercial and manufacturing districts. The proposal will go before the Plan Commission and City Council for formal adoption.




Year 1

Sewer Repairs

Residents repeatedly site flooding as a threat to neighborhood health. Many parts of the sewer system are 100 years old. A major sewer repair at 13th and Exchange is critical. In total, residents have identified nine spots that are notorious for having standing water days after it rains.


Year 2

Tree Lined Right of Ways

This program plants, prunes and/or replaces the trees in the right of ways that have either been removed, died or become diseased over the years. It will remove and replace 20 diseased or dead trees, prune 50 trees and plant 185 trees. This project is being funded by a grant from the Urban Resources Partnership program.




Year 2

Lighting Emerson Park


Sixty percent of residents claim that street lighting is inadequate in Emerson Park. This program addresses the improvement of streetlights in order to improve pedestrian and motor traffic and enhance safety in the neighborhood. Land use surveys and resident interviews sighted 20 locations that would benefit from streetlights. Cannaday Park is also in need of lighting improvements.




Year 2 - 3

HELP Streets and Sidewalks

The missing and deteriorated infrastructure in the neighborhood has an undeniable impact on the appearance of Emerson Park and the quality of life. Many residents state that improvements to infrastructure are more important than planned development projects. The Land Use survey in the Revitalization Plan identifies all the streets, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters in need of repair or replacement.





Year 2 - 3

Parson’s Field Restore

Parson’s Field is long overdue for restoration and revitalization. Through this program, Parson’s Field will be restored into the beautiful open space it once was. This open space is part of the Parson’s Project new housing development.



Year 3

6. Community Organizing

Expand EPDC Board and Recruit New Members


Although many residents regularly attend meetings, a central effort to recruit more board members dedicated to community improvement is needed. A variety of residents should be recruited, both long-time and new residents as part of the New Neighbor Orientation Program.




Year 1

Training Leaders

This program would involve 1 hour training programs once every two months during the regularly scheduled EDPC meeting. Training would be provided on civic leadership, community organizing, and project development.



Year 1 - 2

Community Events


Community fun-days, barbecues, picnics, and block parties should be scheduled two to three times per year. Residents expressed great interest in coming together with other residents and having fun! These events are volunteer organized.



Year 1 - 2

Training Organizers: Formal Training

This program provides formal training opportunities to local residents. Several regional organizations offer training in leadership, organizing, non-profit management, and civic participation to ESL organizations. This program would connect interested residents with these opportunities.




Year 2 - 3


Document author(s) : Cathy Klump
Last modified: 23 September 1999, Deanna Koenigs