ARCOLA, Ill., (WCIA) — An Arcola teen put together a proposal and talked to city leaders in Douglas County. She wants to bring life to an empty lot in her town.
Karina Warfel is a senior at Arcola High School and is already working to make a change in her community.
She wants to bring a plaza downtown that replicates the look of a town in Mexico.
Warfel wants it to have a stage, an area for food vendors, colorful murals and maybe even a spot for a farmer’s market. It would be like a town square.
Jesus Garza, Arcola’s mayor, said it could be possible with the help of donations and a “yes” from city council.
Warfel said it would model a town in Mexico. “The Plaza Principal is in Cadereyta Jiménez,” she said. She added that that’s the hometown for a majority of immigrants in Arcola.
She said the idea was born in her CEO class, and with the help of her school’s librarian, Lynn Klopfleisch.
Warfel wants to re-invigorate the space, putting a mural on a blank wall and a stage in the open area. That’s not all. She wants to include a space for vendor events.
“There’s a lot of vendors in Mexico that sell stuff, food, and that kind of thing. I really think something like that would work well in Arcola,” Warfel said.
She also brought the idea forward to Garza and city council.
Garza is glad she wants to bring a taste of Mexico to Central Illinois, including a sign that he knows is popular in all towns in Mexico.
He knows the vision can’t come to life overnight. They’ll have to raise money, and Garza knows donations can help get there.
“When we were talking about this proposal with a few people in Mexico, they’re going to donate the letters from Mexico,” Garza said.
Warfel’s thankful for anything that can beautify the area and draw people in.
“I want to see more business owners from Arcola be able to run a business,” she said. “To buy a building downtown is unfortunately really expensive, so to have a place you can just rent for cheap would be amazing.”
She wants to see more tourism in Downtown Arcola and wants to show people the things that make Arcola unique.
“We are diverse, but that’s our strength and I want the Plaza to exemplify that,” Warfel added.
Even though she’s graduating high school in the spring, she wants to go to college close by. That way she can stay involved in Arcola and help push the process forward.
Garza said city council will continue talking about the plans in upcoming meetings. If approved, he estimates it will cost $200,000-$300,000 and take 2-3 years to complete.
To see Warfel’s entire proposal, follow this link. To read the proposal in Spanish, click here.