WALNUT, IL (June 21, 2019) – The efforts of the Liberty and Main Committee of Walnut have come to a turning point. The group began meeting bi-weekly in March 2018 with the focus of ensuring the corners of Liberty and Main Streets would again become a cornerstone of the downtown. Under the recommendations of the Committee and ownership of the Walnut Village Board, the location has gone from dilapidated buildings through demolition to vacant lot.
On Tuesday, the group approached the Walnut Village Board with one final recommendation – selling the lot to Walnut Main Street Revitalization (WMSR). WMSR is a local 501c3 nonprofit organization with a proven track record of reviving storefronts in Walnut. The group was born out of the Working on Walnut (WOW) community initiative and now owns three buildings downtown.
The recommendation suggested that by selling the property to WMSR, the nonprofit would continue to work with the Committee to oversee the completion of a new Main Street landmark – Liberty Square. The plans for Liberty Square were then presented, outlining a 35’ by 50’ pavilion and open-air event space to be located in the southeast corner of the lot. The structure would boast 16’ vaulted pine beams with a metal roof and stone-wrapped pillars.
The single-level concrete flooring would extend past the pavilion for a staging area, while also leaving room on the lot for additional tent accommodations for larger parties. It was explained that WMSR has already taken action to seek acquisition of second vacant lot adjacent to the village’s property so that both can be included in the project.
“The space will be accessible and flexible, usable by and for everyone,” said Committee Member Laura Richey, detailing a myriad of uses such as private outdoor events, concerts and community children’s theater. “Our main goal for the design was to make it a beautiful focal point that we can all be proud of – a place to celebrate everything from the annual Fall Fest to the upcoming Sesquicentennial.”
The Committee disclosed that in addition to preparing plans for constructing and landscaping Liberty Square, it had also sought and received support for long-term ownership of the property by the Walnut Park District to ensure maintenance of the space’s condition and character.
After the presentation, the Walnut Village Board voted to move forward with transitioning the property to WMSR, awaiting legal counsel advice on proper mechanics of sale or transfer of ownership.
“Quality of life is what makes people stay in this town, move to this town or – in my family's case – return to this town,” said John Middleton, Liberty and Main Committee and Walnut Village Board member. “This is the catalyst. This is the perfect place to start.”
LIBERTY + MAIN COMMITTEE
The Liberty + Main Committee was formed in 2018 and contains representation from the Walnut Fire Department, Walnut Main Street Revitalization, the Village of Walnut Local Improvements Committee and WOW: Working on Walnut. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.