President’s Message

I live in a great neighborhood!

I grew up in a great neighborhood.  In fact, just about every neighborhood I have lived in has been a great neighborhood.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t issues were I lived.  In my younger years, I lived in one of the south side neighborhoods of Chicago, Marquette Park.  We lived in a 1950’s row house of modest means, surrounded by families of all ethnicities.  There was a sense of purpose with these hard-working lower-to-middle class families.  Everyone looked out and cared for one another.

Our next move was out to the southwest suburbs just before the housing market exploded. The people moving into these new subdivisions were many of the same people we had been surrounded by in the city and brought with them their work ethic and sense of “being a good neighbor.”

Other moves took me back into the city of Chicago with my final moves to central Illinois, via Bloomington, and ultimately to Peoria which has been my home for over 30 years.

Though not every community I have lived in has been “prosperous,” and some having its share of “issues,”  every neighborhood has had an identity, an awareness of who it is and has been defined by the people that live there – their values and sense of community.  Walking down the street, it was not uncommon to smile and say “Hi” to neighbors and visitors alike.  People found sitting on their porches or standing at a fence and conversing for long periods of time was the norm.  And we always didn’t agree or get along. But when the time came to come together, we did, and with strength.

The majority of my time in Peoria has been spent in older neighborhoods – first on Glen Oak Ave. across from the John C. Flanagan House Museum, and in the Cottage District/Moss Bradley since 1989.

in a great neighborhood.  Is it perfect?  Nope.

But I can walk down the street and know this is home.  People will watch out for me as I will for them.  I look forward to our evening walks as it is one of the ways we socialize.  It excites me to see people walking their dogs, riding their bikes or simply strolling down one of our neighborhood streets.

I live in a great neighborhood!

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

I hope you all had a wonderful summer! Fall is around the corner and school has reconvened.

The Convergence Center Reconstruction continues on the Hilltop, and the Brownstones on Moss project is about to commence . The new MacArthur Bridge should be done by Thanksgiving, and we installed more traffic calming on Sheridan between Moss and Main. Traffic dragnets are in play and will continue to nab inconsiderate motorists.

The ornamental lights are being repainted on Moss from Sheridan down to Western.

The upscale 25 million dollar Muse Housing Development has been approved by the City Council. It will serve the UofICOMP and BU student clientele with 330 more people residing, studying, and spending disposable income in our neighborhoods and great City, come August of 2020.
The historic Larkin Building at Main and Sheridan is undergoing a facelift. The experimental Bloomberg grant parkelet— a people oasis— outside Las Delicias was a great success and look for more of them.

We have applied for 25 million dollars of federal money to do a complete rebuild of West Main from Laura Bradley Park to Water Street. Features will include a bike path and wider sidewalks and more exciting al fresco dining opportunities for our restaurants.

We will continue to wrestle with money issues, largely induced by years of mismanagement at the State level. I believe that the pension burden on our municipalities will be fixed by the next State of Illinois Administration and General Assembly after the November Election.

I feel our best days are ahead, and I want to thank the At- Large Council people who take a great interest in supporting our neighborhood, in a district second to none!

See you soon.



Music Opportunity for Neighborhood Children

For the past four summers, Westminster Church on Moss Avenue has sponsored a Music Camp for children in grades 2 through 6, this year adding grades 7 and 8.  We had more than 50 campers each day representing every corner of the city.  It was a great week culminating in a dinner and concert on Friday evening.

With this in mind, it only seems logical that there might be children from our camp, and from here in the neighborhood who might enjoy an ongoing choir experience. Thus, we are seeking children in grades 2 through 6 who might be interested in a weekly choir experience here at Westminster.  The proposed group would meet on Wednesdays after school … beginning at 4:30 p.m. with choir practice for about an hour, and followed by a simple pizza supper provided by the church.  Children need only be interested in singing and come ready to work and have a fun time.

This choir would then prepare music to be sung at a Westminster Sunday morning worship at ten o’clock.  The choir would be scheduled to sing once every five or six weeks.  Being willing to sing in church from time to time is the child’s way to remunerate the church for the music education and supper.

As the new school year is about to begin, and parents seek wholesome activities for their children, this is a perfect way to fill a Wednesday afternoon.  For children in Moss-Bradley, the walk is short being right in the neighborhood.  If you wish, you can bring your child by car, of course.  Westminster Church observes safe sanctuary policies … there are always at least two adults in the room with children at all times.

Director of this endeavor will be Thomas Clark-Jones, Westminster’s Organist-Choirmaster.  Mr. Clark-Jones, who has degrees from Wilkes University, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and from the State College of New Jersey has worked with children’s choirs for over fifty years both in church and secular settings.  He is the founding director of the award winning ‘Cantate: The Children’s Choir of Central Virginia’, founded in 1993 and still going strong as a major piece of the cultural scene in the Central Virginia area.

So, if you’re looking for a learning experience your children will enjoy and come home singing new tunes … here is a good opportunity.  The choir will be a ‘go’ when registrations reach 10 to 12 singers.  Please call the church office at 673-8501 to register your children.  Any questions, feel free to e-mail or call Tom Clark-Jones at 717.503.8929 or  Westminster seeks to serve this community and beyond … if we can give children the gift of music … that will be a great service to enrich our community.

Parklet a hit on West Main

By Andy Kravetz, Journal Star public safety reporter

Reprinted from Journal Star

PEORIA — It’s about the size of a public parking space, but residents and city officials hope the new “parklet’ will spark a new interest in the West Main corridor.

Parklets, said Anthony Corso, the city’s chief innovation officer, are found in cities across the nation. In short, it’s seen as a way to reclaim a portion of the sidewalk, street or parking area and convert it into something that can be enjoyed by all. He said it’s “tactical urbanism.”

“It’s really to add amenities to areas like this one that has fairly narrow sidewalks but have neighborhoods, residents and businesses that would benefit from more pedestrian traffic,” he said, standing near the new parklet that was outside of Las Delicias Mexican Ice Cream Parlor in the 800 block of West Main Street.

The structure, which is portable and can be removed during the cold weather months, features benches and tables. There were planters that offered some vegetation in an area where few plants, save trees and weeds, grow. And from the looks of the people who were enjoying their ice cream, the parklet was a hit.

One woman noted the parking space sized structure almost doubled the number of seats that customers for the ice cream parlor use.

For months, Corso said, the city Innovation Team or I-Team met with area residents, neighborhood groups and businesses to get their feedback on some ideas to revitalize the area. The parklet was seen as an inexpensive method to link the areas north of Sheridan Road to the areas closer to the Bradley University campus, he said.

The I-team plans on reporting on the parklet to the City Council. If deemed a success, guidelines could be created for businesses and residents to create and fund their own parklets. This one, which cost about $5,000 to $10,000, was funded largely by the city, Corso said.

President’s Message

The role and value of strategic planning.

The work done by the MBRA Board of Directors is guided by a framework of ensuring the “day-to-day” activities of the neighborhood are handled in a coordinated, deliberate way.

However, a key piece of our work is how we look at our future aspirations as a neighborhood – how we ensure the legacy of Moss Bradley for future generations.  We must begin to create a road map that tells us where we are going and what kind of neighborhood we are going to be.  We simply cannot continue to hold on to the ways of the past and hope we remain a vibrant neighborhood.  This presents a great challenge for us.

The first step in this process will soon be implemented.  We are getting ready to launch a short survey which will provide us some insight into what you believe are important issues about our neighborhood.  It’s not going to ask about renters/landlords or traffic/speed as we know those are very real and present issues that have plagued us for quite a while.  What this survey will do is help us identify issues that are important to you – finding out attitudes and reactions, to measure your satisfaction and to gauge opinions about various issues.

We will post the survey online for those of us who utilize the internet as our preferred means of communication.  Notification will be made via email and our Facebook account.  For those individuals who prefer, we will have hard copies available at both the March and April Membership meetings.  Our plan is to also have individuals canvas the neighborhood and reach those individuals that are not currently members.

The results of this survey will provide the Board of Directors a better understanding of its membership and their concerns.  It will also serve as a guide for how we approach the coming years in a strategic manner.





2018 MBRA Volunteer of the Year Award and MBRA Beautification Award

Call for Nominations

Nominations due no later than March 31st, 2018!

Nominees for the awards should meet the following criteria:

Volunteer of the Year Award:

  • Resident of the Moss-Bradley Residential Neighborhood or member of the Moss-Bradley Residential Association.
  • Record of neighborhood involvement i.e., past service on the MBRA Board*, member of the MBRA Social Committee, contributor to the MBRA newsletter, volunteer for the Moss Avenue Sale, 4th of July Celebration, Neighborhood Clean-up, Christmas Party, Tri-Corn Park, or Annual Meeting, etc. Record of community involvement which serves the interests of the neighborhood i.e., Bradley University liaison, West Bluff Council, Peoria Historical Society, Westminster Food Drive, River City Marathon, Historic Preservation Commission, City Council, Moss-Bradley Revolving Fund, etc.

Past Award winners include Paul Masick and Ed Bannon & Joanne Tarbuck

Beautification Award:

  • Property within the Moss-Bradley Residential Neighborhood.
  • Exterior improvements that have enhanced the appearance of the property and of the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Exterior maintenance that enhances the appearance of the property and of the surrounding neighborhood.

Past Award winners include Andrew & Mary Muir, and Wayne Johnson


Photographs are encouraged.  If possible, submit a photo with your nomination.  Current MBRA board members are not eligible for nomination. Submit the nomination form to the chair of the MBRA Award Committee by March 31st, 2018 by clicking here.

Winners of both awards will be announced at the Annual Meeting

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

With the vernal equinox and Spring upon us, it behooves us to look at the opportunities ahead.

First, the Chase Bank Building downtown will be restored with historic tax credits. It will become the headquarters for roughly 18 OSF hospitals and a further testament to the strong commitment of the Sisters of the Third Order to our great city. When retrofitted, it will house 750 OSF employees who will be a stone’s throw from our neighborhood.

Great things are happening! I see a vibrant corridor of opportunity stretching from Western and Main and extending to the new OSF development as well as Warehouse District.

Many additional high paying union jobs will be created during the retrofit stage, complementing the work at Bradley’s Convergence Center site.

A built out NEW Bradley student housing development at Main and Garfield will enhance the vibrancy of West Main as we approach the Main and Sheridan intersection and result in even more jobs! A new cross signal will soon be installed to help residents and shoppers cross a very busy and vibrant West Main Street and facilitate a safe crossing for the Central Illinois Ballet students.

The work on West Moss Brownstones is commencing,  and we will have a new Douglas A. MacArthur Bridge by November.

On a different note, we must again beat back the reckless and grossly irresponsible recommendation

to close the Science Lab on North University. Two hundred government scientists must be allowed to continue their life saving research. Working with our Congressional and Senatorial delegations, we can win this battle again.

We also have a new Acting Police Chief.  Loren Marion III has assumed the position, and I will continue to work closely with him to assure that he has a complete understanding of some of our security challenges.

I wish all of you the best and will see you soon.



An Open Letter

From Rod Lorenz

Peoria Public Schools Proposal

At the Moss Bradley Residential Association February 7 membership meeting representatives from Peoria Public Schools (PPS) presented a proposal to utilize the Westminster Parish Hall for a new PPS program.  The new program, called a “wrap-around center,” would be installed in the Parish Hall, the building next door to the church.  The basic concept is that PPS serves many children and families that need a variety of social services currently provided by as many as 10 different agencies.  In a wrap-around center each of these agencies would maintain a presence so that an individual family could be served by multiple agencies at the same location, i.e. a one stop shop for social services.  The appeal of this concept is partly related to the belief that most families who might benefit from these services lack a vehicle or other means of transportation; thus, it is difficult for them to get access to multiple agencies.  PPS Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat was careful to indicate the proposal is in early stages of discussion after Westminster Church offered access to the Parish Hall that is mostly unused today.

The proposed center at Westminster would serve children (and families) directed to it from PPS primary schools throughout town though most of the children would be residents of South Peoria, or zip code 61605.  The children served at the proposed facility would be those with problems that severely impact their learning and need lots of assistance.  The wrap-around center might also include rooms for “respite” instruction, i.e. a substitute schoolroom for a child that “just needs a break” from the usual classroom setting.  A wrap-around center for older students is already planned or in operation at Manual Academy.  PPS staff expects that most families using the Westminster facility would get there by school bus, or by City buses that stop at the intersections of Moss with Western and University Avenues.

At first look the wrap-around center concept seems logical.  Anyone who interacts frequently with young children from central Peoria understands the magnitude of the problems they may have and the potential benefit of easing access to helping hands.  PPS is to be commended for their genuine desire to help overcome the barriers to academic success, and for having the courage to step into what they could easily regard as someone else’s job.  We should also admire Westminster’s commitment to serve their community.  This proposal’s potential for positive impact on the future of certain children is not proven but could have important benefits for this community and should be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, many questions were not asked or couldn’t be answered at the meeting.  How many children/families would be expected to access the center each day, week, or year?  How many might be at the center on a given day, and how would the volume be regulated?  Exactly where in the city would these families likely reside?  What will be the operating hours?  Have the social service agencies committed to having staff at this facility, and who will bear those new costs?  Who will be responsible for the cost of operating and maintaining the facility? What will be the cost to the PPS budget for furnishing and operating the facility?  Has there been a search for suitable facilities for this program and is Moss Avenue the best location?  What impacts of wrap-around centers have been observed in other communities and how have impacts been measured?  It is hoped there will be opportunities to hear answers to these and many other questions before decisions are made.

The February 7 meeting was disappointing because of the small number of Moss Bradley residents present—probably less than 10% of owner-occupied residences in the neighborhood were represented.  It should be understood that Moss Bradley remains a vulnerable neighborhood.  The fraction of residential properties that are rentals, mostly owned by landlords who live elsewhere, is thought to be approaching half.  Most of these properties are not maintained to the same standard as owner-occupied homes.  We cannot take for granted that the positive trajectory seen in Moss Bradley over the past 15 -20 years will continue automatically.  Residents must remain involved for this neighborhood to thrive and keeping themselves and their neighbors informed about proposals such as this one is an important first step.  Attending MBRA meetings is one way to do that.

Stay tuned and ask questions.





President’s Message

The new year will be upon us and people make all types of resolution. Here are some resolutions I’d like to suggest we all consider for our neighborhood. Some of these ideas for comes from the Better Block project and from writer Sarah Goodyear.

Plant something…or plant more
Green, living things can radically change people’s moods and health. A tree or a flower brings great happiness, and it can connect you to the people in your neighborhood.

Pick up litter
This one is easy. Sadly, no matter where you live, there’s likely to be litter. Maybe it’s blowing around on the sidewalk. Maybe it’s dumped by the side of a street. If the debris not too horribly disgusting — some newspaper, a chips bag, a plastic bag, an empty bottle — just pick it up and dispose of it properly. This is probably the single easiest good deed to perform in any place in the world.

Get to know your neighbors
Really, even the irritating ones. Say hello and get a conversation started.

Find out who your government representatives are.
All of them. State, federal, county and city. Then, when you have a problem, you know who to go to to get it fixed.

If you see something, say something.
Something doesn’t look right? Properties in disrepair? Trash not being picked up? The city of Peoria has a service and app called Peoria Cares. Download it or call 309.494.CARE. Call the Peoria Police Department non-emergency number, 309.673.4521 or call 9-1-1 in emergency situation. Not sure who to connect with? Visit the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 website at

Shop locally
The vitality of neighborhoods exist in a number of amenities including neighborhood business. We have a variety of local business along Main St. and in West Peoria that add to the vitality of our community and the wealth of our city.

Go for a walk
We have a great neighborhood with runners and bikers and dog walkers. Get out and enjoy what we have!

Build a Little Free Library
Build a Little Free Library next to the sidewalk that runs alongside your house to the park. Little Free Libraries are free book exchanges that promote literacy and a sense of community.

Visit a Senior or Shut-In
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 11 million people over the age of 65 live alone. While living alone doesn’t necessary mean that someone is socially isolated, far too many older adults are. Isolation can affect physical and mental health, make seniors more vulnerable to elder abuse, and make them more vulnerable during natural disasters, dangerous weather, and other crises too.

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

As we conclude 2017 and ring in 2018, we have much to be thankful for!

A new brownstone development on West Moss, the Central Illinois Ballet in the old Foster/Jacob building, and more projects just around the corner.

We have concluded a biennial budget which has a human face,  and we will continue to work hard to rectify the many difficult issues in Springfield and Washington, D.C., which impact our local budget. These influences are extrinsic to us but impact us all.

In 2018 the new Douglas A. MacArthur Bridge project will begin.

We also will continue to bear witness to the erection of The Convergence Center on the Bradley Campus — a lasting legacy for Peoria and Bradley University. Just as importantly, we will make plans to rebuild Main Street, making it more pedestrian friendly and the continued focal point for our vibrant West Bluff and Peoria area.

The 650 million dollar multi-year federal defense contract will continue to mean many jobs for Central Illinoisans who work at the East Peoria defense facility. I want to thank all of you for making us a great neighborhood and want to thank Brian Buralli, our dedicated President, and our NPO, Adrian Aguilar, for their tireless efforts to make our neighborhood one of the best in our nation.

Finally, we are fortunate to have Councilors Jensen, Rand, and  Ruckriegel as dedicated public servants who assist us in the maintenance of a high quality of life in the Moss/ Bradley area.

From my Family to yours, I wish you Happy Holidays and a very prosperous New Year!


Key HVAC Maintenance Tips for Fall and Winter

During those cold winter nights, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system becomes the most valuable commodity in your home. But if it’s running poorly, that means less comfort and higher energy bills for homeowners. Heating your home and producing hot water are generally the largest energy expenses for any homeowner, so you can ensure your home heating bill remains as reasonable as possible by supporting your HVAC system and keeping it running properly.

Change the Air Filter and Clean the Vents

Changing the air filter every month is one of the most important things you can do to support your HVAC system. It’s also one of the easiest. The filter should be checked every month and replaced if it is dirty. Filters should be replaced at the very least every three months – no matter what. Keep up with this simple project by choosing a regular day to check the filter, such as the first or last day of the month.

Have It Inspected

Yearly service of your HVAC system ensures it runs properly. Homeowners should have the system inspected in the fall to best prepare it for the demands of winter. The Department of Energy website offers a list of helpful instructions to help homeowners find the right contractor for their needs.

If Your HVAC System is Ancient, Replace It

Replacing the home’s HVAC system is an expensive proposition, but if your system is old and inefficient, the added comfort and financial benefits of a new system can be very real. If your system is more than 10 years old, you should ask a service technician’s opinion on the longevity of your system. Replacing it with an Energy Star model could reduce your home’s annual energy bill by as much as 30 percent, per

Sufficiently Insulate the Attic

One of the easiest ways to help your HVAC system operate at peak performance is to lighten its load. Insulating the home’s attic keeps warm air in the home and prevents it from escaping outside. This allows your HVAC system to do less and still maintain the home’s proper temperature. Per, a simple visual test will determine whether the home’s attic is sufficiently insulated. According to their recommendation, insulation in the attic should be high enough to obstruct the view of the floor joists. If this is the case, additional insulation will offer little to no benefit.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat provides the technology to allow you to set the temperature in your home for every hour of the day, and it will keep to that schedule, day after day, week after week. Plus, depending upon the device, you can even adjust the temperature from your smartphone, meaning you can tweak the settings of your home thermostat wherever and whenever you might be.


Winter Care for Older Adults

Winter is an important time to check on older adult family members, friends, and neighbors to ensure they stay safe throughout the season. In addition to colder temperatures and snow, winter weather can bring an increased risk of health problems and injuries to older adults.

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness offers tips to consider when helping older adults this winter:

  • Falls are a concern for everyone, especially for older adults. Putting road salt, cat litter, or sand on sidewalks, steps, and driveways will make these areas as slip-free as possible. Non-slip shoes are also a great way to help older adults navigate slippery conditions.
  • Cold temperatures make older adults susceptible to hypothermia, a dangerous drop in body temperature. Learn the warning signs of this weather related illness and how to prevent it.
  • Shoveling can put too much strain on the heart. Older adults, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, should leave snow shoveling to others.

If you do not live near your older adult family members, it may be helpful to create a plan about how you’ll connect with them during an emergency. Download and complete the Family Emergency Communication Plan from America’s PrepareAthon! and share it with your family today.

Source: U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)


President’s Message

Reflections on a year that has passed us by all too quickly….

It feels like we were all just gathering for our annual July Fourth celebration, which by the way had 183 people in attendance according to Paul Masick, our resident statistician.  But we all know better than that to assume time has stood still for us.

The one topic that continued to dominate our conversations this past year was traffic.  Speeding, in particular.  The city has installed a number of traffic calming devices throughout the neighborhood over the past 24 months.  Yet we still see people driving with no regard for safety or courtesy to others.  We continue to have conversation with our city councilors and staff in hopes of slowing down those who view residential streets as their own expressway.

Our summer started in a grand manner with another great tradition, the Moss   Avenue Sale and Festival, which celebrated its 37th anniversary this past June.  It was a warm, sunny day that saw strong attendance, bringing visitors to our neighborhood to experience our hospitality and lifestyle.  The net proceeds from the sale will be put to use to help fund the Hanging of the Greens and a number of other neighborhood initiatives to help improve the quality of life found in our neighborhood.

In late August, Scott Lewis Construction approached us all with a concept for developing the vacant land at the corner of Moss Ave. and Union St.  His vision, at that time, was to build 8 brownstone townhouses, the first truly new construction in the neighborhood since the rebuild of Westminister Presbyterian Church. Scott and his team continue to work with the city on the development of their plan to best fit the character of our neighborhood.

Thank you to all who make this neighborhood a great place to live.  From our board of directors to the many volunteers who invest their own personal time, we are blessed to have neighbors who care about the neighborhood we all live in.

Happy Holidays!