A new vision for the Alton riverfront

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ALTON, Ill. – St. Louis might be the Gateway to the West, but just up river in Alton, Illinois, some see a golden opportunity along the Mississippi River.

“AltonWorks is a social impact revitalization company focused on historic downtown Alton, and we are focused on East Broadway or Main Street, but we hope that that spreads out to the region,” says Kiku Obata, AltonWorks.

During Monday’s Alton Riverfront Commission Meeting, members of Alton Works showed a plan to create a new Mississippi River frontage.

AltonWorks wants to update the marina and add a boardwalk along the riverfront, along with bike trails and improving the cruise ship mooring area and amenities.

But the biggest long-term vision is to create a Great Rivers National Park.

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“This riverfront becomes the gateway and hub to the Great Rivers National Park,” Obata said.

Alton Works and the Army Corps of Engineers are exploring turning the Great Rivers Confluence region where the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers come together into the country’s newest national park.

“The master plan with the Army Corps of Engineers could be basically free because they have an environmental justice program that basically eliminates the cost share between the core and the city of Alton, because Alton has a certain amount of population under the poverty line, so it’s basically that part is free,” Obata said

There are currently 20 federal state and local jurisdictions that the group hopes could come together under the National Park Service.

“We also propose taking this idea for the national park through congressional delegates to the National Park Service and ask them to do what’s called a reconnaissance study and that would take two years and that’s free,” Obata said.

The feasibility study is expected to take two years.

Kiku Obata sees the potential of a gold mine waiting to be discovered that already flows past this river town every single day.

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