Michael Burgess and Rob Delaney of Premier Builders of Jacksonville want to get behind efforts to clean up the Town Brook and create bike trails in the area. And they’ve done so with a check for $1,000 delivered to the City of Jacksonville on Wednesday (17 OCt 2012) — the first monetary contribution to the city for the park.
“I think it’s going to take support from local businesses to get this done,” Burgess said. “Hopefully more will jump on the bandwagon.”
A citizen’s group Townbrook.com is pushing the city to make changes to land along the Town Brook to facilitate public use, and create a path for walkers, runners and bicyclists. Members of the group are also pushing for a bike route to and around Lake Jacksonville. Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard has appointed aldermen, city officials and community leaders to a Special Studies Town Brook Improvement Committee to investigate the city’s options and the possibility of private and public grants to help pay for any improvements.
Michael Burgess and Rob Delaney have been following news of the Town Brook project, and acted to support the effort and spur others to get involved. The pair are avid cyclists, but say they often head other places to jump on trails for a safer ride.
“I’ve gone over to Centennial Park for a ride, then I get my breakfast in Springfield before coming back,” Burgess said. “Jacksonville’s missing out. It would be great to connect a trail along the Town Brook to business downtown, so people could go down there to eat.”
He said bike routes in Springfield and Chatham draw in parents and their children for rides. “When you go on those trails there’s always families,” he said. “Serious guys will just head out on country roads, it’s families who want a safe place to ride.”
Delaney also loves to cycle, especially heading over to the Katy Trail. And his journey means he eats and shops in Missouri, instead of spending money in Jacksonville. He thinks providing a safe place to ride would bring in people from the region, and be a boost to business in town.
Delaney said he and his wife Tonya frequently start rides from the Bob Freesen YMCA after dropping their children off at swim class. “It would be nice to have a safe way to get out of town,” he said. “A path along the Town Brook wouldn’t be an entire ride, but you need to get through town to start.” Connecting to Lincoln Avenue or Massey Lane and adding a wide shoulder would be great to get bicyclists safely out of town where they can enjoy rides on low-traffic roads in the countryside surrounding Jacksonville. Delaney said drivers are courteous, but on trips down Lincoln Road he has seen cars swing into the opposing lane and hold oncoming traffic to get around him. It’s a safety issue both for him and for the drivers.
Delaney and Burgess said they found out about the efforts to create a bike path from Steve Warmowski, who is leading a citizen’s group Townbrook.com in pushing the city to make changes to land along the Town Brook to facilitate public use. The concept also calls for a path for walkers, runners and bicyclists, and also for a bike route to and around Lake Jacksonville. To get more information go to townbrook.com or facebook.com/townbrook. The group also has contact and newsletter lists and is calling on all supporters to send their names, emails and phone numbers to Warmowski at 217.245.4178 or steve @ townbrook.com.
Delaney and Burgess say the idea of local bike routes and using the Town Brook for recreation have come up in the past, but they are confident this time the community can actually get something done. “The key will be getting enough people interested to keep it going,” Burgess said. And with their donation, they hope other business owners, especially those who cycle, get behind the project.
Premier Builders were thanked by the City of Jacksonville. “The donation is a great start toward the future vision of the improvement project. Together with community support, leadership and vision we can help improve the quality of life in Jacksonville and make the brook something our entire community can enjoy.” The City of Jacksonville’s Special Studies Town Brook Improvement Committee is headed by Alderman Lori Large Oldenettel and is exploring options for the city council to act upon. The first action is a cleanup of the Town Brook to be held Saturday morning October 27 (rain date November 3rd). To sign up contact Oldenettel at 217.370.4597 or cleanup @ townbrook.com.
Citizens or businesses who would like to financially support local parks and recreation can send a contribution to Jacksonville Parks Foundation, 1815 Mound Road, Jacksonville IL 62650. Contact the group’s President Steve Warmowski 217.245.4178 for more details.