Roundtable: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Galesburg?

Galesburg Register-Mail
Photos from the annual Galesburg Railroad Days celebration on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

Name and explain one strength (an aspect to tout) and one weakness (aspect to be improved upon) of Galesburg/Galesburg area. Please include both. 

Courtney Wallace

Housing cost great, but too few options

One of the main things that keeps me in Galesburg and one strength is the location itself and how accessible it is to other cities and attractions. Within a four-hour radius, there’s Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Des Moines, and Milwaukee. The only downfall is it’s giving those other cities money. Which leads me to the weakness. Galesburg needs more attractions and better housing options. The cost of living here is great (another strength), but there aren’t that many options. Apartments are outdated and scarce. If people don’t have options to live then they’ll move where there are options. I believe, if there were more housing options then people could bring more businesses here. — Courtney Wallace

Harry Bulkeley

Aging population both a strength and weakness

Could the same aspect be both a strength and a weakness? A noticeable aspect of Galesburg and Knox County is its aging population. Our demographics reveal a population older than the national average.

As an old folk myself, I know we bring both positive and not so positive gifts to a community. Having retired, many have more disposable income. We tend to eat out more, buy cars more often and generally help put money into the economy. Many of us aren’t crazy about on-line shopping, so we patronize local stores.

We are very good customers of medical services which is one of the problems of our aging demographic. We can help boost the medical providers, but we also make greater demands on the health care system. We can no longer provide the manpower and legwork we used to.

Whether it’s a strength or weakness, old folks are who we are. — Harry Bulkeley

Like about Galesburg:We asked: What are your favorite things about Galesburg living? Here are 33 to start with

Laurie Meulder

Plenty of ways to make a difference, more volunteers needed

Seeing our new Galesburg Public Library being built invites anticipation, and hope. It will be a terrific asset for Galesburg and Knox County providing programs and services to people throughout the community. Since 2009 library directors, boards of trustees and other volunteers have worked and planned for the new building while applying for and receiving the State Public Library Construction grant which pays 75% of the cost. With money already in the Galesburg Public Library Foundation, we needed to raise $3.75 million more and are getting close.  The generous Galesburg support of the new Galesburg Public Library project has been inspiring, as have the many different volunteer efforts, including those that encouraged the support. Recently the library had a Volunteer Open House; there was a great turnout of organizations seeking volunteers, but not many people looking to be a volunteer.  One of the virtues of living in a smaller community is the wide range of organizations and volunteer opportunities available, but one Galesburg weakness is the paucity of people offering their services as volunteers. If you find yourself thinking “somebody should …” about something, nominate yourself and volunteer. — Laurie Muelder

William Urban

Small town feel with amenities of larger one

Galesburg has the feel of a small town with amenities of a large one. That is, on those rare occasions that Hollywood wants to show what an idealized Midwestern community looks like, it could hardly do better than Galesburg. It also has far better medical and educational facilities, restaurants, and transportation connections than most cities of its size. 

On the downside, lost industries are difficult to lure back. Given that so many companies are leaving Illinois because of high taxes, powerful unions, and the corruption that inevitably grows in one-party states, it is difficult to imagine turning this around.  

We have to build on what we do well rather than moan about those we don’t. Emphasize our springs and falls, not the summers and winters.  — William Urban

Abortion opinion:Roundtable: What's your response to Supreme Court eliminating abortion protection?

Stephen Podwojski

It's all aobut people and their attitudes

Weakness? Some of the people who live here. The Strength? Many of the people that live here. It’s all about people and their attitudes. With any village, town, or big city — it’s the people that make it work or not. The article about Galesburg being a great small town to live in brought out both. More or less, there are those that can be regulated to incessant, opinionated miscreants (the “everything is awful” crowd) and those who choose to either make Galesburg better or simply happy to be here. 

I have lived in several states. I have traveled extensively in my career. It’s the people that make a place. Buildings are just a testament to the people that constructed, visited, worked or lived in them.  The good old days are just that. Looking back historically has merit but the here and now is where you can impact tomorrow  The interactions you have within your spheres of influence matter. I interact with some wonderful people that are giving back to the community. I offer a big “thank you” for what you do. On the other side, I never know why those locals that continually beat on the drum of wretched discontent still live here. Their verbal evacuations of misery are tiresome. I make the distinction of those who offer constructive criticism versus those who remind me of one of my great uncles. My memory of him was he was a perpetual grump. Try not to be that guy. — Stephen Podwojski

Charlie Gruner

Quieter and less stressful than metro areas

I don’t know if you would characterize it as “strength” but I find the small-town environment of the area to be far quieter and less stressful than the area that I came from, in and near Chicago. The people here are generally friendlier and the feel of “community” is stronger here, as well. I see more people actively involved in volunteer positions for the size of the community here also. Just look around this page. All of the participants of the Roundtable, my colleagues, participate as volunteers.

There are several weaknesses. Galesburg streets are usually in a poor state of repair. I’ve said that before. There is a lack of employment for both ends of the spectrum. Outside of medical professions, there are few jobs for college graduates and there are also few, if any, jobs for factory workers. Finally, there is not enough of variety in decent restaurants in the area. — Charlie Gruner

The Community Roundtable runs each Sunday and is made up of local writers. Community writers answer one question each week in 150 words or fewer.