The Next Rockford Strategy Team endorses the Rebuilding Rockford Referendum to support Rockford’s infrastructure investments. Next Rockford Strategy Team Member, Seth Gronewold, shared his reasons he supports the referendum in this opinion piece published by the Rockford Register Star.

February 4, 2021

While I’m a Rockford transplant, after growing up in Forreston, I’ve always enjoyed the abundance of all the city offers. Living and working here has only heightened my appreciation and gratitude — especially for the places and spaces that bring energy, spontaneity and natural beauty sandwiched between bigger attractions. 

With that in mind, I urge you to support the Rebuilding Rockford referendum. Rockfordians will decide when they vote (early or on the Feb. 23 primary) whether to continue the infrastructure program an additional five years.

As an engineer, the importance of keeping up with roads and infrastructure in a community is obvious. I see people hopping on buses, out-of-towners commuting to work, and pedestrians making their way around town. I see children riding school buses every morning. I see trucks delivering supplies. I see police, fire and ambulances rushing to help. I see people coming to shop and eat.

Safe roads and infrastructure – things like crossings, paths and bridges – are such an integral part of our daily lives. And sometimes we take those for granted.

By voting yes, the city of Rockford can continue to generate funds to advance infrastructure improvements like those completed since the original referendum passed in 2007. The program generates about $16 million annually – more than 30% comes from visitors. That money goes to improve and fix roads, bridges, sidewalks, paths and stormwater facilities. Take a look at the recently issued 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program ( if you want to see the completed projects and others that are on the horizon.

Just to highlight a couple — the Spring Creek Road resurfacing project and the Ninth Street reconstruction project — were large projects made possible because of those who supported the program. Without continuing this program, upcoming projects such as reconstructing Charles Street and converting Church and Main streets from one-way into two-way roads would need to be funded by an alternative revenue source or bond money, which only increases the cost of the project because it adds interest into the equation.

If you’re wondering what else the program has done for the city over the last 13 years – the proof is all over town. The city’s website highlights more than 100 of the projects over the last several years. It’s easy to see that the city has invested in arterial roadways that benefit the majority of residents and visitors AND will continue to invest to ensure local neighborhood roads are adequate for residents throughout the city.

The best thing about this program is that it’s shared by all who use Rockford roads to access our businesses. The reasons are basic, clear and sound – which is why it is strongly supported. The Rebuilding Rockford campaign has gained backers like Rockford Area Realtors, Project First Rate Executive Director Paul Nolley, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, Rockford Chamber of Commerce President Einar Forsman and several other community leaders.

Continuing this program for the city of Rockford is a no-brainer. It comes with a promise of millions of dollars invested in the things we all use daily. It’s letting those who come to Rockford to enjoy our community help fund the things they use while visiting this beautiful city. I consider myself privileged to call this city home for so many different reasons.

Let’s not change a good thing. Vote yes when you vote early or hit the polls on Feb. 23.

Seth Gronewold is a professional engineer at Fehr Graham and a member of Next Rockford.

Article originally posted by the Rockford Register Star: