DeKalb Mayor John Rey and NIU President Doug Baker spoke to business leaders Thursday morning about some of the ways the two groups will work together in the future. Baker half-joked that he would like to see more community members fill Huskie Stadium during football games and buy tickets to other university events.
But much of the discussion on a city/university partnership centers on DeKalb's downtown.
Rey says one of his priorities is a city center revitalization plan. That would involve developing a project management team, continuing public/private partnerships, increasing residential development, and encouraging more foot traffic in the downtown. Rey told WNIJ that the new leadership within city government and the university is good for the overall health of DeKalb:
"I sense a vibrancy in those leaders in our community that embrace the vision and embrace the future. We are going to be working together to restore that vibrant, thriving community that we know as DeKalb, and it's going to have a strong community/university component." - DeKalb Mayor John Rey
Baker says he believes NIU is a vital player in the community and would like to see the downtown a destination for students looking for entertainment and places to socialize.
City Manager Search
DeKalb is currently searching for a city manager. Mayor Rey says he hopes to have a new city manager seated by January. One of the candidates will likely be Rudy Espiritu, the city's acting city manager. Espiritu told business leaders about recent accomplishments including DeKalb's high ratings for government transparency in a recent study. He also says the new housing bureau has been effective in targeting criminal activity. Espiritu did caution that the city's revenues remain flat and there is room for growth.