First District Peoria City Council candidate Denise Jackson says the conversation around the city's potential plans for the former Save-A-Lot grocery store on Western Avenue are flawed.
Incumbent Denise Moore, who is running for another term, is proposing the city purchase the building with TIF funds in hopes of attracting a new grocer.
But Jackson, who also is a member of the Southside Community United for Change group that uses the site for farmers markets, said community input is needed first.
"It doesn't do any good to open up a grocery store if you don't have fresh fruit, fresh meat, and the things that people are going to use. Because they end up going someplace else for those things, anyway," Jackson said at a Monday news conference. "I don't think we should rush."
Moore said the city should buy the former grocery store space by using more than $500,000 in TIF funding to help lure a new grocer to the building.
She said community space in the building could be leveraged for utilizing state grant funds to reimburse the TIF for the money used to make the initial purchase of the old store.
But Jackson said other needs outrank that as a priority.
"We can talk about community centers, but if our streets are tore up, and folks are getting out of high school or going to college, and their moms and people are wanting to buy a house for the first time, but we don't have decent, nice, affordable housing stock for them, where are they going to go? Maybe leave town, like I did...and not come back?" she asked.
The city council tabled a discussion on the grocery store purchase at their its regular meeting. The council is set to take it up again next month.
Jackson also outlined her priorities, if elected, on Monday. They include more lighting for streets and alleys, additional stormwater projects, and curtailing illegal dumping, particularly of old tires.
Aaron Chess and Alexander Sierra also are running for the 1st District council seat in the February primary.
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