By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — City Council members on Monday approved plans to tear down the Lorden building in an effort to overhaul the downtown Davis Park.
The 7-acre park at 320 S. Wyman St. is the only park that the city of Rockford owns. But city leaders say the Lorden building needs to be cleared out for the park to reach its full potential.
“It’s kind of an albatross out there. It’s been not used for 30-plus years,” Mayor Tom McNamara said on This Week in the Stateline. “We’ve tried to get it redeveloped and it’s just not possible. We got to get that building down to open up views and really open up the park.”
City Council members voted unanimously to approve a master plan for Davis Park. It’s the first step of a multifaceted plan to bring more activity to Davis Park.
The plan calls for Davis Park to one day include a sun-tanning beach, multi-use trail, splash pads, canopy stage, skate park and a plaza with space for food trucks during special events.
“We really need this park to be welcoming, but we also really need this park to be activated on a much more regular basis,” McNamara said. “To get it activated we need certain things to take place: We need a better stage, we need better restrooms, we need it to just be more welcoming and an area that people want to go.”
The city now needs to solicit bids to raze the building before moving forward with other elements of the plan. McNamara said construction should start this year.