Editorial 9.7.12: University should work to make Main Street safer

For many of us, we have been warmed not to walk down Main Street since our very first day on campus. That mile trek down Main Street to the bottom of the hill isn’t safe at any time of the day.

In relation to downtown Peoria, it is understood there are some dangerous neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. But because of the university’s close proximity to the outskirts of the city, many would presume that taking Main Street south toward the city down couldn’t be that bad. But two robberies that took place last spring at businesses on Main Street, one which was armed, suggest otherwise.

The safety of the street has become a larger concern, especially now that there is university-sanctioned housing, Main Street Commons.

In addition to Main Street, Campustown has its own track record for crime.

Although the plaza is across the street from campus, muggings, robberies and some violent action has been recorded there for years. That is likely one of the reasons the Bradley University Police Department chose Campustown to house their new headquarters more than a year ago.

Since that move, safety concerns in these areas have not decreased and not much has changed to comfort those concerns. Lighting in the area is still dim and several businesses that

line the street, such as bars and liquor stores, make it a risky walk after dark.

However, Main Street is moving in a positive direction. New shops like The Main Statement, opened by two Bradley graduates, the re-opening of Mr. G’s and new businesses like The Broken Tree coffee shop offer some promise that the trend may continue.

It is clear that local entrepreneurs have some hope in the area, and are interested in the real estate surrounding Bradley’s campus. Now its the university’s chance to give them the extra push to start a business in the area.

It would be a positive step if students had the ability to visit small boutiques and eateries within walking distance. This would also be an excellent recruiting tool.

Moving businesses in below Main Street Commons, like Random, the clothing boutique, and Leaves and Beans coffee shop later this year, might prompt other small businesses to look at Main Street as a viable option.

If Bradley wants to create a lasting impression on its students, it should realize that Main Street is too close to the university to be ignored. Administration should continue to work with the city, police and business owners to make Main Street the kind of place students, and other members of the community, would want to visit.