Knox Mayor Touts Park Upgrades, Downtown Revitalization in State of the City Report

Knox Mayor Dennis Estok

Knox Mayor Dennis Estok says his administration has accomplished much of what it set out to do when he retook office four years ago. The mayor gave a State of the City report to the city council Tuesday.

“We have made Knox a vibrant place, more vibrant,” he said. “We’ve added a lot of stuff for the citizens to do. But we’ve got to continue. You can’t stop. If you get complacent, you’re going to lose it.”

Estok highlighted the addition of the splash pad, performance stage, and concession stand and restroom building at Wythogan Park. He said the improvements were worth half a million dollars, but thanks to help from the community, they only cost the city about $225,000. “We had contractors donate their time, people donate their time to help with all these projects, and you know what? We live in a great community,” Estok said.

The mayor said that these upgrades, along with the growth of city events, have helped develop the city’s hometown atmosphere. “Some people have said it’s a hallmark community now, and that’s an economic value also,” Estok noted. “It’s just not only bringing things for everybody to do and all that, but you see strange faces come to Knox, and they do. They come from LaPorte. They come from you name it.”

Estok also touted downtown revitalization efforts, including the decorative crosswalk, city logo, and mural at Main and Lake streets, along with the city-owned pop-up store. He also discussed the city’s partnership with Ball State University on a downtown revitalization plan and façade improvement program.

The mayor reported success in bringing outside grant funding into Knox – over $2.6 million over the past four years. Almost half of that was Community Crossings grant funding for street improvements and extensions. The city was also able to tear down 13 dilapidated homes with help from a $223,000 blight elimination grant.

Financially, Estok said Knox has remained stable over the past four years, which was highlighted by an S&P credit rating of A-, during the sewage bond process. “I just think we’ve used good management practices, and we really have,” he said. “We’ve watched our dollars. We don’t go out and just do a project just to be doing one. We go out and try to do it the most cost-effective way.”

Going forward, Estok is looking forward to more park improvements, including a new dog park and parking improvements at Wythogan Park. You can hear Mayor Estok’s entire State of the City report tomorrow at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints on K99.3.