Donald D. Monty, Mayor
State of the City Address - December 10, 2013 by (Former Mayor Joel Fritzler)
From the Mayor
Carbondale is a great place to live. I came to Carbondale in 1968 as a graduate student with the intent of completing a Ph.D. and then moving on to somewhere as a college professor. Little did I know that in just a few short years I would be captivated by Carbondale. My internship in the Mayor’s Office exposed me to many residents. At the end of the internship I was fortunate to receive a position in the City Government working with many citizen groups. Thirty-five years later, I retired from City employment as Assistant City Manager. After a few years in retirement, I was elected to the City Council. Part way through my term on the City Council, our Mayor resigned, and my fellow City Council members elected me as Acting Mayor to fill out the remaining 15 months of the Mayor’s term.
What is it about Carbondale that would cause a graduate student to make a total career change and end up raising a family here? You could ask the same question of many residents in Carbondale. I know many people who came here with the intent that it be a brief stop in their careers, but they ended up staying here for decades. The reason is very simple. Carbondale is a great place to live.
Carbondale combines into one place the environment of a small city with the amenities of a large city. It is located in a rural setting, but only a relatively short drive to urban centers. There is no doubt that Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a major attraction. In addition to its educational mission, the University provides a wide variety of cultural opportunities and informative programs on many topics which are open to the public. The University also provides many sporting events which residents enjoy. In addition to the University, there are many organizations that provide cultural, educational and recreational opportunities to residents and visitors.
Carbondale is a major shopping center for southern Illinois. The University Mall and many nearby stores provide the same shopping opportunities as national chain stores found in urban centers. There are also many local stores in the Downtown and other areas of the community. No other city in the region has 16 movie screens. There are many opportunities for dining which range from long-time local eateries to national chain restaurants. Foods from many cultures can be found in Carbondale’s restaurants.
For anyone who likes the outdoors, Carbondale is located in a unique setting. Just a few miles south and west of Carbondale is the Shawnee National Forest. Here one can go hiking, horseback riding and fishing. Giant City State Park with its fabulous rock formations is just minutes from the city. The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge borders the eastern edge of the City with many outdoor opportunities including three large lakes. There are other lakes nearby, including the City’s own Cedar Lake which provides a great place to fish, hike or enjoy the tranquility of nature. With so much public land nearby, this is a real home for people who like to hunt, fish, hike, ride horses, mountain bike, watch birds, enjoy wild flowers and so on.
Carbondale also has strong local schools. Due to historical circumstances, parts of three elementary school districts serve different portions of the community. All three funnel their children into Carbondale Community High School which year-after-year graduates many talented students who win state-wide awards. The high school and elementary school districts also provide a wide range of sporting opportunities for the community.
Besides schools, local government services cover a wide spectrum of activities. The City of Carbondale’s many services are detailed in other pages of explorecarbondale.com. The Carbondale Park district provides many parks and recreational opportunities including a public golf course. Ground has been broken for a new outdoor swimming complex. The Carbondale Public Library has a wealth of information and services available to the public.
Access to Carbondale is convenient. The Amtrak station in Carbondale is the fifth busiest station in Illinois with three trains per day to and from Chicago and daily service to and from Memphis and New Orleans. Scheduled passenger air service is available at the Williamson County airport just twenty minutes from downtown Carbondale. Likewise access to the Interstate Highway System is just minutes from the city, and U.S. highway 51 and Illinois Route 13 run through Carbondale. Downtown St. Louis is only 2 hours from Carbondale. Interstate highways provide access from Carbondale to Nashville, TN, Memphis, TN and Louisville, KY in about 3 hours and to Indianapolis, IN and Chicago, IL in about 4 and 5 hours respectively.
As you can see from the above, if you are interested in education, culture, sports or recreation, Carbondale is a great place to live. Carbondale is also great place to locate a business. Besides the strong local regional market, Carbondale is also home to a large pool of well trained workers. If the City of Carbondale can ever be of service to you, please contact our City staff. They are professionals in everything they do.