Neighborhood hoping for new projects to shine at annual conference

By Beau Ebenezer

September 18, 2013 Updated Sep 19, 2013 at 9:44 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Community leaders from more than 20 cities throughout the region will stop in Peoria Thursday for the 2013 Regional Neighborhood Network Conference.

The conference serves as a chance for various neighborhoods to gain ideas from each other, in order to transform their communities.

This year, Peoria was chosen to host the event, which is expected to bring in 300 people.

Highlighted in the event is Peoria's East Bluff, which has recently undergone renovations with help from various grants.

Wednesday evening, community volunteers did some last-minute clean-up to show off the neighborhood's key features.

"It's a great opportunity for us to show off all of our accomplishments because everything that people see is usually bad," Kristina Gamez said. "Unfortunately, people hear more about the bad than the good. This is our way of showing everyone that there is good stuff happening right now."

"I hope neighbors realize that others are seeing our neighborhood, and they think some things look good and are improving," said member of the East Bluff Housing Services, Willa Lucas. "Maybe this will make others want to be a part of that."

The conference will take a tour through the East Bluff on Friday focusing on the "Kansas Street Initiative", which has received grants to repair deteriorating houses along the street.

The events run through Saturday.