Resource Guide 2018-06-01T11:53:02+00:00

Great Neighborhoods | Rockford Region Resource Guide

Providing the tools to help make our neighborhoods great.

Introduction

GREAT NEIGHBORHOODS is a project of Transform Rockford that has evolved with a significant amount of input from a diversity of residents, studying best practices around the country, and recognizing the results of those practices and efforts. This Resource Guide is intended to help neighborhood leaders and residents through education and mentorship, develop their skills to be a change agent to improve the entire community. This Resource Guide has been developed to assist neighborhoods to be more effective organizations in achieving goals and objectives.

Every neighborhood has attributes that make it a Great Neighborhood, things that make it great unique and desirable.

Every neighborhood has attributes that make it a Great Neighborhood; things that make it great, unique, and desirable. Every neighborhood also has some challenges. We want to help recognize the good, and help you work with others to make what is good even greater, and work to resolve some of the challenges. It’s part of a mutual benefit that goes beyond an individual neighborhood and makes our community even greater.

We have categorized these issues to help clarify and address the components that impact neighborhoods’ futures and that can improve the quality of life. Your neighborhood organizations can be empowered to take responsibility and be accountable for action. Citizen involvement, commitment and support are critical to success. This is a grass roots effort to take collective action in controlling your neighborhood’s destiny and future.

Neighbors that know one another and have the same collective hopes and aspirations for their neighborhood can be a formidable force of change.

We have organized these resources into categories in the order of importance. Assets and governance must be clearly understood in order to develop goals and objectives that create the action plan.

Property Ownership

Understanding who owns property in your neighborhood is critically important and basic in shaping your future. Ownership impacts and influences your neighborhood. Here’s how to easily find the information and create your own data base.

How do I find property owners in my neighborhood?

WinGIS.org allows you to do a property search by name or address to find information about property owners near you. This will help assist you to find which owners live in a property, where absentee landlords reside, and which are owned by commercial enterprises and financial institutions.

Go to: http://wingis.org/, property search

Type in the property address and the name and address of the property owner will be shown. If you click on the parcel on the map to the right, additional details will come up. Click again for Additional Parcel Details. Near the bottom will be a drop down to get further information such as property values, etc.

Your neighborhood may want to start creating a basic database to understand ownership in your neighborhood while providing a basis of communication with owners.

There are some properties for which ownership is not clear. This can happen if the owner dies and did not will it to anyone. It can also occur if someone stops paying their mortgage but the bank has not yet assumed ownership. There are also some properties where someone has “purchased” the back taxes, and this can further confuse title.

Zoning and Code Enforcement

Zoning

It is important to understand zoning classifications which set out how a property can be used – such as single-family, multi-family, commercial, etc. Zoning laws regulate land use. The basic purposes of zoning regulations are to divide a municipality into residential, commercial, and industrial districts (or zones), that are for the most part separate from one another, with the use of property within each district being reasonably uniform, to protect and conserve the value of buildings, to protect against overcrowding, to plan for future development, and to encourage the most appropriate use of the land.

It is important to understand the codes and what each entity is responsible for in order to assist, help, and resolve issues.

City of Rockford:

Unincorporated areas of Rockford are zoned through Winnebago County. Information can be obtained through Winnebago County Planning and Zoning at 815.319.4351 and via web at
https://wincoil.us/departments/regional-planning-economic-development/planning-zoning-division/

Zoning plays a critical role in defining property use and density. It is important to note that some single family residences have become multi-family units illegally, which can be detrimental to the neighborhood. Verify if those conditions exist. Multi-family units are also governed by the number of units allowed and parking requirements.

Building Codes

Building codes are intended to create a quality standard for construction and property maintenance. Recognize the issues that may effect and impact your neighborhood’s well-being and future. What can you do to influence action on properties that lack maintenance and have poor property management?

Code Enforcement

Deteriorating and dangerous structures not only are a danger to that property, but have a negative impact on the rest of the neighborhood. It is critical that these properties be reported, and don’t presume that someone has reported it. If you don’t see any changes, report again. Follow up is important. Reporting online is the best method if you have access to a computer.

For residents of the City of Rockford, go to: https://rockfordil.gov Scroll down under Most Frequent Content to Service Requests and complete the information.
If you have a complaint or question regarding the ordinance for tall grass and weeds, you can call the weeds hotline at 779-348-7161. You can also contact Neighborhood Standards for other questions or complaints regarding the above ordinances at 779-348-7160. You can also e-mail Neighborhood Standards at [email protected]

All complaint sources are kept confidential. Your name will not be asked nor given to the public. When inspectors respond to a complaint they generally inspect the surrounding neighborhood for other violations as well.

If you submit a complaint and don’t see that any action has been taken within reasonable time, call or email again. Follow up is critical to getting action from the City and County governmental agencies, and also the owner of the property.

Neighborhood Standards code violations include neighborhood environmental issues such as:

  • Trash or garbage – excessive amounts on a property or storage and placement in violation of the trash collection guidelines
  • Fencing
  • Garage Sales
  • Inoperable and abandoned vehicles
  • RV, trailer and boat storage
  • Signs and banners
  • Tall grass or weeds
  • Vehicles parking on the grass or unpaved surfaces
  • Zoning issues such as home businesses

Neighborhood Standards Brochure: http://rockfordil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ns-violations-half-page-brochure.pdf

Property Standards is a section under Neighborhood Standards that deals with issues related to the safety and maintenance of building structures, and would include items such as dangerous structures of parts of structures (i.e. roofs, porches, windows, etc.).
All interior health sanitation complaints should be reported to the Winnebago County Health Dept.

Condemnations

Structures can be condemned for many reasons, including actual structural disrepair, or unsafe or nonfunctional utilities, or even health issues such as mold or animal infestations.

The process can take time because specific legal procedures and timeframes must be followed and multiple agencies may be involved. In some cases, the building owner may still have the ability to fix the problems. In some cases, the only option is demolition, but that may take some time.

The City of Rockford has a specific system which rates the condition of the structure, and properties are placed on a list pursuant to that system. The City of Rockford is making every effort, but there simply is not enough money to demolish all the substandard houses and garages.

Understand Your Neighborhood’s Assets

Your neighborhood’s assets can be used to let new residents to the area know what is great about your neighborhood or different events that may happen throughout the year. It is also a way to get information out in a marketing format to the Realtors Association and businesses’ HR departments to help attract potential new residents to your neighborhood.

Welcoming new neighbors is extremely important when building a safe community. Getting to know each other brings value as a caring community that looks out for one another and builds relationships. Everyone can help and participate in some way.

There are many components that make up the assets and values of your neighborhood. Define, identify, and develop a data base of information that will distinguish your neighborhood by it’s:

  1. History
  2. Residents
    1. Former residents that have influenced Rockford’s History
    2. Current residents that collaborate, embody leadership, influence effectively, and above all, are genuinely good neighbors
  3. Architectural Styles
  4. Landscaping, Gardens, & Topography

Understand Your Neighborhood’s History

It’s important to understand and chronicle the history of your neighborhood. How was your neighborhood developed? Who lived there and what influence did they have on the development of Rockford? It will instill pride to be able to tell the story of your neighborhood and create a significant impact on marketing and branding your neighborhood. You may be surprised as to who your predecessors were and where they lived.

You can find resources and information at: Rockford Public Library Local History Room. Information can be accessed online of historic newspaper articles for research of homes, people, events, and development of Rockford’s neighborhoods

Local History websites for photos and information:

Long time residents should be interviewed to provide a verbal history of what they have seen in the neighborhood through the years. They can provide a perspective of what homes use to look like and who lived there, or have photos of homes with friends in them. Connections to places and people can be surprising resources of good information.

Landscaping & Gardens

Well maintained home lawns, landscaping, and edged sidewalks, all improve the image and value of the neighborhood. Trash and poorly maintained properties encourage additional blight; caring for your property encourages others to do so as well – it can be contagious! See the attached photo library of local examples.

Local landscaping businesses can provide consulting to create a plan and cost estimate for landscaping improvements. To focus on putting in native plantings, a program through the Natural Land Institute, [email protected], can assist with consulting on how to make sure your landscaping includes native plantings that are drought-tolerant and provides habitats for birds and butterflies native to the area.
Native plants can be an integral design feature in traditional gardens.

Landscaping and gardening provide defining features that can make your homes and neighborhood very attractive with added value. Well-designed landscaping at neighborhood entrances and gateways can upgrade your image and attractiveness.


Before Dutch Elm Disease ravaged the country, Rockford boasted shaded streets, inspiring the moniker, “Forest City.

Forest City

Trees are an investment in the future and proper placement and species can even help you reduce energy costs! We have lost trees over the years to diseases (Dutch Elm, Emerald Ash Borer), so replanting is critical. But, reforestation needs to be planned with a purpose and variety that will minimize impacts of disease. Diversity, color, and texture are important considerations. Utilizing an arborist’s expertise and knowledge is well worth the time and effort.

The City of Rockford is seeking people who are interested in obtaining a free tree that would be placed between the sidewalk and road – an area which is called “parkway” or “right-of-way”. All you have to do is commit to watering the tree; Public Works will handle any maintenance. We have lost many trees due to diseases over the years, and some trees have to be trimmed extensively. The City wants to broaden the types of trees being planted and put the right tree in the right place. Contact Public Works at 779-348-7260 to make sure that the area is suitable for planting, and to ascertain what trees would be appropriate.

The City of Rockford also has a Private Property Tree Removal Loan Program which provides a no-interest loan program for income qualified residents to contract at a discounted price to have dead, dying or diseased trees removed from their property. The loan would be repaid over time through their monthly water bill. It is on a first-come, first-served, so don’t delay.
Program documents can be found on the city’s website at:

Or contact the City’s Customer Service Center at 779-348-7300

Through neighborhood meetings or social media, you can often find a nearby person to hire for assistance if needed.

Developing Objectives and Goals

The purpose of organizing is to develop shared objectives and to set goals to stabilize and improve your neighborhood. Utilizing the power of an organization with many voices and a purpose, of improving community, will usually get results. Neighborhood Network of Rockford is available to identify if you are already in an area with a neighborhood group, or help you create or improve a neighborhood organization. Contact Cyndie Hall at [email protected], or at 779-348-7571.

Schedule some social or holiday activities, and don’t forget to celebrate successes and thank those who made things happen.

One purpose of your organization should be to unify your neighbors as a cohesive team to achieve your goals and objectives. You may have a specific issue you want to address (crime, blight, problem neighbor), or you may just want to get to know each other – people feel safer and enjoy where they live more when they know their neighbors.

  • Understand the elements of success. What are the capabilities and capacities of your team and selected partners?
  • Understand the process and time it will take to achieve your objective.
  • Outline what it will take to achieve your objective. What skill sets, partners, and assistance are needed?
  • Educate your neighbors on the value of planning and organizing the tasks to achieve your objectives.
  • Develop timelines to insure accountability and results. Be realistic when setting deadlines. Remember that this is a volunteer effort and we need to be supportive of everyone’s efforts.
    Don’t hesitate to support and assist floundering efforts as a team. It’s essential in building trust and confidence in what all can achieve.
  • Understand community objectives to align with that of your neighborhood. You are in the position to micromanage the details and recognize what issues are creating problems at a localized level.
  • Document the issues. It creates credibility in your approach to recognize a problem and how you intend to resolve and improve it with your partners.
  • It is important to understand the governing limits of our large number of governmental agencies that may impact your objectives. By educating and understanding the process, you can lessen the frustration and discouragement that can occur.
  • Always be prepared to recognize opportunities with new partnerships, availability of funding, and the capabilities of your neighbors that align with your objectives and priorities.
  • Identify gaps and weaknesses in your organization that can prevent implementation of tasks and achieving your objectives.
  • Schedule some social or holiday activities, and don’t forget to celebrate successes and thank those who made things happen.
  • During the warmer temperatures, neighbors host events involving food such as block parties, festivals, celebrations and outings. These events may be considered public if they were advertised on television, radio, newspaper, and/or social media. Special event food code regulations apply to public events.

Please contact the Winnebago County Health Department at (815) 720-4100 for additional information and permitting procedures. Our department will provide guidance for safe food handling practices and procedures. Our goal is to ensure safe food service for your fun-filled event.

Maximizing the Effectiveness of Communications

There are several ways to communicate efficiently, depending on the purpose, message, and audience. Successful neighborhoods have people that communicate with their neighbors, with other people in the neighborhood, and of course, with their elected officials.

Neighborhood Network and the Transform  Rockford®Great Neighborhoods team can help you.

What are some ways to communicate?

  • Electronic media can be useful to reach out quickly to access large numbers of people. But not everyone uses electronic media.
  • Be friendly. Talk directly to your neighbors. Even a simple wave can break the ice and make someone feel more welcome.
  • Reach out directly. Consider creating a phone tree and/or email list for your neighborhood group. Some people may not chose to participate, but at least ask. For instance, you can get ahold of people very quickly to see if something is wrong, to let them know that their garage door is open, or to just to let them know about upcoming neighborhood meetings or activities.
  • Newsletters. Several neighborhood groups use newsletters to communicate – you can let people know what is going on, what happened at neighborhood meetings or when the next meeting or event is taking place, and perhaps add some items of interest such as local history, neighborhood businesses, new businesses, and safety tips. You may even want to offer local businesses the opportunity to put an ad in the newsletter to help pay for any costs. Some groups have the ability to actually print and mail newsletters, some groups create simple one or two page updates and bring them door to door, others post them on their website or Facebook page. See what can work for you.

Try social media platforms – we can help.

Website

Not too many neighborhoods have websites; they can be time consuming to create and keep up to date. But if there is someone in your group with the skills, interest and time, it is a great way to tell the story about your neighborhood. You can talk about what makes your area unique, how to get in touch with elected officials and agencies, and be sure to include plenty of photos!

Instagram, Facebook, or a closed Facebook page

Facebook pages and Instagram accounts do not take a great deal of time to create and can help you keep in touch with your neighboroods. You can post information about what is going on, crime issues and safety tips, area services, and of course, great things about the community. A standard Facebook
page and Instagram account can be viewed by anyone. A closed Facebook page requires an administrator (or several) to approve a request to be a member of the page so you can limit access to those in the neighborhood. We can help with this, and also help you with some basic rules of civility which can set up ahead of time to avoid inappropriate comments.

Nextdoor

This is a free, private social network for your neighborhood — a kind of social media for neighbors. It’s a great way to stay informed about what’s going on in your neighborhood, find babysitters or lost and found animals, share safety tips, and plan an event. Many groups even use it to barter services – someone would gladly bake cookies if they could borrow a ladder for a few hours. It is a closed group, so every neighbor signs in with their real name, and must verify their address. You can chose where your information is shared, and it is securely encrypted.
Again, we can help. You can find out more information by going to: https://nextdoor.com/about_us/

Advocacy

ADVOCACY IS A PRODUCT OF PURPOSE, PLANNING, AND INFLUENCE DOING IS GETTING RESULTS.

In order to accomplish your goals and objectives, you need to be advocates to influence change and improvements. Advocacy is a product of purpose, planning, and influence. DOING is getting results. Here are the TOOLS to help:

How to influence change

  • Get to know your elected officials and contact them with your needs and ideas. Your officials have been elected to serve their constituents, but they cannot do so effectively if people don’t let them know what is needed or how they feel about issues. Resolving issues with elected officials and governmental staff can be frustrating and discouraging. Typically, they have a lot of issues that prioritize their attention and focus. Patience, perseverance, and understanding are key attributes in accomplishing your goals.
  • Organization and smart planning are vital components to changing attitudes and solve problems.
  • A well, thought out approach to resolving issues is part of the process to insure good outcomes.
  • Perseverance and passion for change are extremely important traits for advocacy and accomplishing your objectives; it’s a long term commitment.
  • Understanding the process and reasonable timelines to accomplish goals and objectives will help avert frustration.
  • You’re in the business of community building that result in collective action, commitment, and relationship building.
  • Communication and establishing good, working relationships serves as a basis of understanding the issues, speeds up the process, and creates a community bond.

Rockford City Council:

The Council has 14 members who each represent a specific ward. You can find out who your alderman is and how to reach them by going to the city website at: https://rockfordil.gov/city-council/

The City Council generally meets on the first and third Mondays of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 425 East State Street. There are also three standing committees which meet on the second and fourth Mondays. You may attend meetings, or watch them on cable TV channel 17.

The aldermen and mayor are elected every four years. It is a right and responsibility to study the issues and vote. If you have not already done so, you can register to vote at the Board of Elections, 301 South 6th Street. For more information, call 815-987-5750, or visit the Board’s website at
www.voterockford.com.

Winnebago County:

You are also represented by a County Board member. To find out your district and board member go to: http://wincoil.us/departments/county-board-office/county-board-members/

Relationships build a community. Discover and recognize the gifts of your neighbors that can contribute to your success.

Leaders involve others by being good listeners. Encourage participation to promote relationship building and motivate action.

Approach issues as a partnership, not as an adversary. More can be accomplished sooner with better results.

Seek assistance and mentoring when progress is lacking. There are many resources available to assist your efforts. Help is not that far away when you are part of a neighborhood network of doers. Equip your team with the right tools, skills, and persuasiveness to effect change. Empowering your team with effective leaders will improve chances of success and further your ability to accomplish other objectives.

Select attainable goals that impact and make a difference. Building a base of accomplishments creates confidence in your leadership, enhances future successes, and engages more participation in the organization that has a proven track record of success.

Build capacity by engaging, mentoring, and encouraging others. Develop leadership potential of neighbors with opportunities to lead.

Advocate for sustainable solutions that impact and align with community priorities and economic development.

Doing

Taking action is the result of planning, organizing and achieving an objective and goal. Developing the process and taking action are about DOING it and getting it done.

Encouragement and flattery motivate action. The use of compliments builds confidence in everyone that you’re heading in a successful direction.

Encouraging property owners to improve their property can have a cumulative and motivating effect.
Improvements can be small and inexpensive and still have a motivating, powerful impact. The visual impact of change and improvement will motivate others to do more.

Actively encourage and lead by example. Helping others as a community of volunteers motivates others to do the same.

Identify simple and attainable improvements that can impact perceptions of your neighborhood.

Strategically identify improvements that can substantially change your neighborhood image for the short and long terms.

Identify potential partners to assist your efforts and collaborate with them.

Collaborate with other neighborhoods to collectively impact the greater whole with similar programs, improvements, or joint ventures. Working together encourages others to do the same.

Understand the value of any improvement and the impact it can have on your home and neighborhood.

Neighborhood Safety

Call 911 for Emergency – Call 815-966-2900 for Non-Emergency

It is critical that each neighborhood, and each of us, partner with the Rockford Police Department to solve issues, break down barriers and REPORT! There is nothing more disturbing than feeling unsafe and powerless in responding to lawlessness and bad behavior. Keeping your community safe takes diligence and hard work. It’s a process of educating and understanding the issues with your team and plotting a course of action.

What can you do?

Take the time to understand exactly what the issues are, find the facts, recent history and information and analyze the cause and effects with the multiple resources that are available. Make specific notes of what is happening, when, what the occupants or vehicles look like before you call.

Solutions will come easier when the facts are revealed and the cause and effects understood. Occupants that are undermining a neighborhood or block need to be analyzed to determine the root of the problem.

Identify types of crime and chronic problem areas. See something, say something. You know your area, you know what is right and what is suspicious, and sometimes you even see crimes in progress. The Police Department cannot be everywhere at once, and needs each one of use to be eyes and ears, and we must report. Don’t presume someone else reported a problem.

When you call:

Please be aware that when you call either the Emergency or Non-Emergency, you will be connected to Rockford 911 Division, a division of Rockford Fire, not to a police officer. The telecommunicator must ask a series of specific questions so that they can dispatch the appropriate fire, police, and emergency medical service in the most expeditious manner. Give them as much information as you can – specific descriptions of people or vehicles, and what activity is occurring and why it is dangerous. If the situation escalates or becomes more dangerous before an officer arrives, call back again with updated information.

The Rockford Police Department has three Districts several divisions and officers. One of the most important services to you is the Community Services Unit, each assigned to a specific area. The unit’s goal is to help you raise the quality of life in your neighborhood. They can help you with crime prevention concerns.

They can also assist you in forming or revitalizing your neighborhood group.

What else can you do?

  • Invite and convene City staff, police, property owners, and affected neighbors to identify specific problems and seek solutions. Your community service officer can provide updates and suggestions at neighborhood meetings. Talk to your alderman.
  • What steps can be taken immediately to resolve problem issues and make everyone accountable to find a solution?
  • Follow up is critical to empower successful outcomes. It also provides confidence in neighborhood leadership that can have long lasting positive effects when addressing other issues.
  • Success encourages others to join in on being part of an effective team that has proven itself on enabling positive change and improvement.
  • Communication and relationship building are key factors when building a strong and viable neighborhood community. Developing friendships is an important ally in addressing and tackling important community issues and opportunities.
  • An organized effort that has many advocates is an effective tool for change.
  • Block captains who check in with each other can provide a quick internal neighborhood reporting system to help each other be vigilant.

Marketing & Branding

It has become increasingly important to understand the value of Marketing and Branding of neighborhoods. Cities around the country have embraced and promoted neighborhood identities that have significantly impacted the quality of life and new investment. Neighborhoods have succeeded in creating a BRAND that offers value, a unique identity and location. We can help. Here are some important points to consider in letting others know the value of your assets and what that means for the whole community.

The purpose of marketing and branding your neighborhood is to attract investment and improvement, and to create a perception of a stable, high quality environment for you and your neighbors to enjoy.

Neighborhood assets and amenities need to be visually emphasized in order to reinforce values.

Photo opportunities should be taken to highlight neighborhood assets and share them. These include architectural styles and details that make up the fabric of the neighborhood.

Photos of landscaping indicate the caring for the environment, creativity, and passionate hobbies that are exhibited by neighbors.

Photos of neighborhood activities, such as, block parties, picnics, social gatherings, and events show how neighbors are connected, and that a sense of community exists.

Photos of dog walkers, joggers, and biking all validate that this is a walkable, safe, and neighborly, and desirable community.

Showing community/civic engagement at the neighborhood level creates a sense of belonging to be part of the greater whole and contribute to the greater good.

The character and values of your neighborhood can have a lasting impression as to how others perceive your community as a desirable place to live. Be a good neighbor and commit to a long term relationship.

Don’t hesitate to create a Logo to brand your neighborhood on T-shirts, sweat shirts, on social media, advertising for realtors, and to use in identifying the value of your neighborhood and promoting your brand.

Rockford City Departments

COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

Community & Economic Development handles a wide variety of services under various divisions, including economic development activities relating to business, manufacturing, downtown revitalization and creation and retention of jobs; neighborhood revitalization through numerous housing rehabilitation programs, administration of neighborhood code enforcement inspections, and community organizing; and carrying out long-range land use and transportation planning, annexations, zoning and subdivisions.

Important City Numbers:

Building Permits. . .. . .779-348-7158
Construction & Development Services. . .. . .779-348-7158
Current & Long Range Planning. . .. . .779-348-7163
Economic Development. . .. .779-348-7162
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing,
Fire Suppression. . .. . .779-348-7158
Neighborhood Development. . .. . .779-348-7162
Household Hazardous Waste. . .. . .779-348-7425
Yard Waste (Rock River Disposal). . .. . .815-965-CITY

Divisions:

  • Construction & Development Services provides building, mechanical, and electrical inspections for all existing and new construction, as well as administers land use planning, zoning policies, and historic preservation.
  • Neighborhood Standards, also known as Code Enforcement, offers citizens a single point of contact for all neighborhood environmental issues and complaints.
  • Neighborhood Development administers housing rehabilitation and home ownership programs including deferred mortgages, homebuyer assistance, and city water hook-up for homeowners, as well as provides assistance to neighborhood and community service organizations.
  • Economic Development is responsible for administering a variety of economic development programs such as the City’s state-certified Enterprise and River Edge Redevelopment Zones, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and CDBG Rehabilitation & Development and Facade programs.

Planning:

  • Current Planning activities include permits for building, permanent and temporary signs, home businesses, parking lots, dumpster enclosures and fences. Staff also works with Zoning Map Amendments, Variations and Special use Permits and subdivision reviews.
  • Long Range Planning guides and encourages growth and development within the City, while preserving neighborhood character and preventing undesired or incompatible uses of land. This office assists with demographic data, administers historic preservation, and other special planning projects.

FIRE DEPARTMENT

The Fire Department operates out of 11 stations, providing a full range of services, including fire suppression, rescue, hazardous material mitigation, fire prevention, inspections, fire investigation, and disaster preparedness. It is the second largest in the State of Illinois and responds to over 27,000 emergency incidents per year. The Fire Department maintains an ISO Class 2 rating and has been accredited through the Center for Public Safety Excellence since 2011.

Frequently asked questions – and for more go to: https://rockfordil.gov/city-departments/fire/fire-department-faqs/

Q: I have a Carbon Monoxide or Natural Gas leak.
A: For leaks or odors, contact NiCor at 888-642-6748. Call 911 if you are experiencing any symptoms.

Q: Why do you send a fire truck with an ambulance to a medical call?
A: Our main concern in any medical emergency is to provide support as quickly as possible. All fire suppression companies are equipped with at least one ALS certified personnel. Because there are only 7 ambulances to cover the city, by sending a fire truck we can ensure that Advanced Life Support is on scene in a timely manner.

Q: Does the City charge for false alarms?
A: False alarm billing is managed by a third party, PMAM. They can be contacted at 877-624-4992. There is a $300 fine for not having a permit. The 1st-4th false alarms are not charged. The 5th-8th false alarms are charged $100 each.

Q: Can I have a recreational fire in the City of Rockford?
A: By city ordinance, open burning and camp fires are not allowed in the City of Rockford. Permits are issued for special event bonfires and prairie/ecological burns. Fines for violating this ordinance may be issued. View the Open Burning Guidelines to learn more about the open burning ordinance.

Who else to call:

  • To obtain help after a fire or emergency. Contact the American Red Cross at 815-963-8471 for install car seats?
  • To get help to install car seats. Safe Kids Winnebago County provides that service, at 815-489-6088.assistance.
  • I am locked out of my car. The department will only respond if there is an immediate danger. Otherwise, you should contact a locksmith

HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT

The City of Rockford Human Services Department is the designated public Community Action Agency for Winnebago and Boone Counties. Community Action Agencies exist to break the cycle of generational poverty and to mitigate the immediate effects of poverty on individuals, families and neighborhoods.

As a Community Action Agency, the Human Services Department provides services to individuals, families and neighborhoods in Rockford as well as in greater Winnebago and Boone Counties.

Services are administered under two Divisions with input from a Community Action Board and the Head Start Policy Council.

  • Head Start includes Early Head Start services for children prenatal to age three years old and their families, and services for children age three to five years old and their families.
  • Community Services includes Community Health & Prevention, Housing Programs, Community Action Programs, At Risk Youth Programs, Job Creation and Placement, Community Action Gardens, Energy Programs, Summer Food, and Basset Training for Alcohol Sellers/Servers.
    For more information contact 844-710-6919.

PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT

The goal in Public Works is to be customer-driven to provide excellent service to benefit the public by maintaining and improving the City ROW infrastructure for the benefit of all who use it. Public Works strives to manage this system with the best quality of service.

The Public Works Department manages a wide range of responsibilities throughout the City of Rockford.
The department is comprised of three divisions that assist in the maintenance and enhancement of the City infrastructure.

Important Numbers

Alley, Sidewalk & Curb and Gutter Issues. . . 779-348-7261
Block Party Requests. . . 779-348-7641
Graffiti . . 779-348-7261
Ice and Snow Removal. . 779-348-7260
Potholes. . . 779-348-7260

Streetlights

Burned out (ComEd). . . 1-800-344-7661
New installation. . 779-348-7174
Traffic Signal (repair, replace, install). . 779-348-7178
Tree Care:. . 779-348-7260

Water

Discolored Water. . 779-348-7151
Request for service. . . 779-348-7177

ENGINEERING

The Engineering Division provides design and construction management for capital construction projects. The Division reviews plans, issues permits for subdivisions and work within the public right-of-way, and maintains the City’s infrastructure. Contact this division to obtain permits for special events or right-of-way.

This division is also responsible for the 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program, the City-wide infrastructure investment program. The current program focuses on Highway Structure Repair and Replacement Program, City-Wide Stormwater and Drainage, Programmed Maintenance, Sidewalk and Active Transportation, Capital Lighting and Traffic Signals, Project Development, and Community Enhancement and Economic Development.

The City Council votes on the CIP every year. It is vital that you contact your alderman to give ideas on what streets need repair.

For more specifics on the CIP, go to:
http://rockfordil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2018-2022-Council-Approved_010218_opt-1.pdf

The Traffic Division regulates all traffic activity on City streets in order to ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists is provided. The primary functions of the Traffic Section include installation and maintenance of traffic signals, corridor signal systems, emergency vehicle preemption, and special event traffic control equipment, roadway sign fabrication, installation and maintenance for the roadway signs and pavement marking maintenance within the City and repair of City-owned street lighting equipment within the downtown and other outlying business districts.

This division also works with the Traffic Commission which holds a monthly public meeting to hear and make decisions on various petitions to establish or changes traffic control, on street parking restrictions, speed limits and other traffic and traffic safety issues. Contact your aldermen to request traffic control changes such as stop signs or parking changes.

STREET DIVISION

The Street Division is comprised of three major areas of responsibility: Patching, Forestry and Storm Sewer, and is responsible for maintaining the 650 miles of right-of-way within the City. The division maintains streets, storm sewers, and terrace areas, removes snow and ice from the streets, and sweeps streets seasonally.

FORESTRY

The Forestry maintains trees and shrubs in the city right-of-way and in city lots. Adjacent property owners are responsible for trimming low hanging braches in the right of way and maintaining any private trees or bushes which are adjacent to the public right of way, including low
As mentioned before, the City has a Tree Replacement Program to reforest the city with the right trees in the right place, and has trees available to plant in the right-of-way. To determine if your right-of-way is appropriate for tree planting, call 779) 348-7260.

POTHOLE PATCHING

Potholes are an inevitable part of Midwestern seasons, and they can become large if not reported. City crews repair approximately 120,000 potholes annually using approximately 3,500 tons of asphalt. Please call the Pothole Hotline at 779-348-7260 and report the location by the nearest address if possible.

SNOW AND ICE OPERATIONS

The City provides ice and snow removal on City streets; though there are streets within the city which are the responsibility of Winnebago County and Rockford Township. Residents are responsible for their sidewalks and alleys. Businesses are responsible for their property and adjacent sidewalks.

Odd Even Parking: In order to remove snow and ice from city streets, plows must be able to safely and effectively maneuver. If a snow or ice storm reaches the point that streets are becoming difficult to clear, city officials can declare a Snow Emergency. A Snow Emergency requires that vehicles be parked on the odd side of the street when the date ends in an odd number and on the even side of the street when the date ends on an even number. For example, on January 5th you would park on the odd side of the street. By 8:00 a.m. vehicles must move to the other side of the street. Police and public works crews will issue parking tickets at the cost of $50.00 to vehicles that are parked on the wrong side of the street.

The City issues public service announcements, sends out Nixle and NextDoor alerts, and posts information on its website if a Snow Emergency is call. It’s safe to assume that if it’s snowing the Odd/Even Parking is in effect.

For more information about ice and snow operations, visit http://rockfordil.gov/public-works/street-division/snow-status-page.aspx.

GRAFFITI

The City does not tolerate graffiti, and has one of the best response times for removal of any municipality in the nation. You can provide invaluable assistance and help keep your neighborhood looking good by reporting graffiti by calling the City Graffiti Hotline at 779-348-7261. You can also report graffiti online at: https://dp.rockfordil.gov/DPResponsive/CRM/ServiceRequest/ServiceRequestCategory and then follow the prompt.

WATER DIVISION

The Water Division is responsible for production, quality control, water treatment, distribution, and related services to approximately 55,000 water customers.

Water Meters: The Water Division provides, maintains and replaces water meters. To detect costly water leaks, check your water meter when your home is quiet. Listen for plumbing leaks or a toilet that keeps running.

Water Quality: Rockford has received awards for water quality, but there are times when sediment can be stirred up in the water mains. Examples include hydrant use or flushing, and some construction projects. Watch for public service announcements regarding flushing. Discolored water does not pose a health hazard, but can stain household fixtures and laundry. The minerals will settle; it is not necessary to let water run in an effort to clear discoloration.

ROCK RIVER RECLAMATION DISTRICT

This agency is a separate taxing body and is responsible for all sanitary sewer issues, permits, sewer backups.
Rock River Water Reclamation District. . . 815-387-7400

Rockford Park District

It’s More Than Just Parks and Recreation

The Rockford Park District improves the quality of life for citizens by providing a vibrant park system which increases property values, stimulates economic development, decreases juvenile crime, and improves our communities health. The Rockford Park District also protects the environment, employs thousands of area kids for the very first time, and brings the community together to enjoy life.

Shelters & Picnic Areas

The Rockford Park District offers the perfect location to hold your special occasion. Our shelters are a great place to hold family barbecues, birthday parties, baby showers, and much more. We can accommodate groups of any size, ranging from 30-200+ people. While you may picnic at any of our parks for FREE, we strongly recommend you make a reservation in order to guarantee that specific location is prepped and ready for you from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on your selected day.

Reservations can be made up to 365 days in advance online, or by calling Rockford Park District Customer Service at 815-987-8800.

NOTE: We do not guarantee water at our shelters before April 15 or after October 15, due to the chance for freezing.

Vision: The Rockford Park District is the ‘best” urban park and recreation system in North America, as judged by those we serve.

Mission: Helping people enjoy life!

Contact Information: 815-987-8800 or www.rockfordparkdistrict.org

United Way 211

Individuals and families in our community need quick access to reliable information that addresses their most critical needs. United Way 211 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects callers with free information and referrals for community services within Ogle and Winnebago counties.

Available 24/7, simply dial 2-1-1 to connect to trained staff and volunteers who will listen to your situation and quickly refer you to the most appropriate source of assistance. The network supports multilingual services such as Spanish, Manadarin Chinese and more. United Way 211 is also available by calling (888) 865-9903 and visiting www.findhelp211.org.

United Way 211 offers information on a broad range of services, including:

  • rent assistance
  • food banks
  • affordable housing
  • health resources
  • child care
  • after-school programs
  • elderly care
  • financial literacy
  • job training programs

Resources

United Way 2-1-1
Community Resource Guide:
https://unitedwayrrv.org/images/report/Winnebago_County_Community_Resource_Guide_-_Nov16.pdf

Database Updates

United Way 211 database evolves daily. To include your organization in the database or update your current information, please visit PATH by clicking here:
http://www.navigateresources.net/path/request.aspx

Connection Issues

Most landline and wireless carriers within Winnebago and
Ogle counties should provide access to 2-1-1. You may also dial (888) 865-9903 and visit www.findhelp211.org to reach United Way 211.
Visit the Trouble Connecting page for any issues: https://unitedwayrrv.org/our-impact/united-way-211/12-our-impact/24-trouble-connecting

FAQs

For more information on United Way 211, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page:
https://unitedwayrrv.org/our-impact/united-way-211/12-our-impact/23-faq-s

Quarterly Report

Download a copy of the latest Quarterly Report featuring usage data and statistics by visiting the Reports page:
https://unitedwayrrv.org/our-impact/reports

 

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