Lori Large Oldenettel, Jacksonville Alderman Ward 2 and chair of the city’s Town Brook Special Studies Committee, and Steve Warmowski of TownBrook.com gave speeches Thursday March 28th to the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club and Friday March 29th to the Jacksonville Noon Rotary Club at their weekly meetings at Hamilton’s.
We gave an overview of the Town Brook project, history and future goals, and plugged the Town Brook April 20th Spring Cleanup.
At both meetings a question came up that needs to be addressed — how much is this going to cost?
Short term – Phase 3 of the engineering study from Farnsworth Group will cost about $48,000. Lori has promised her fellow city council members not to ask for the funds until she gets half of that in grants and donations. So far we’re a finalist for a Make A Difference Day Foundation grant for $10,000 – and we’ll find out the third week of April if the Town Brook project is a winner. And, next week we’ll find out if we’re in the running for in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist online contest. Lori registered the project with State Farm for a $25,000 grant. On April 4th we’ll find out if the Town Brook is selected as one of 200 projects nation-wide for the final stage of the contest. There will be a Facebook voting campaign with the top 40 vote-getters receiving grants. The city previously won a $10,000 Readers Digest grant, so this is doable!
The engineers at Farnsworth Group are also optimistic that the Town Brook will be recognized as an especially unique project, and can pull in grants. A recreational path along the creek will provide east-west connectivity for the town, and would be a great project for transportation grants as well as recreational grants. And, if you’ve ever tried to walk or ride your bike along Morton Avenue, with its helter skelter sidewalks and business pull-in traffic, you know pedestrians need a safe way to get to destinations in this major business district.
But, getting back to the question of cost — there’s actually two ways to look at this. How much does will it cost to do this, and how much will it cost to not do this.
Jacksonville has commissioned studies about the community, and Terry Denison at the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation said the results find our community does a great job offering amenities to seniors, but we fall short in offering things to do for youth and especially young families. Right now people go to Springfield and other places to have fun. Unless we invest in our community and start building more places for these young families to have fun here, we’re going to lose them. And we’re going to have a harder time attracting businesses, employers and new people to town.
The Town Brook project means . . .
- A Town Brook recreational path (and all its tie-ins with historical and President Abraham Lincoln sites and Looking for Lincoln highlights as well as parks, schools, colleges, the YMCA and other amenities in town),
- the development of a bike trail to and around Lake Jacksonville (for bicyclists from town and campers at the lake),
- promoting mountain biking at Audubon Woods (which is pulling in visitors from Springfield and all across the region),
- bringing people to Pioneer Park and Pioneer Woods at the Old State Road crossing of Mauvaisterre Creek,
- connecting Illinois College and MacMurray College,
- feeding people into Community Park and Nichols Park,
- bringing bikers, walkers and runners to the revived Jacksonville Downtown,
- creating a Gateway Park along Morton at the Lake Mauvaisterre spillway and bottomland
. . . all these things highlight some of the best features of Jacksonville, encourage people to get out and be active and healthy, give families a safe place to have fun with their children, boost quality of life and encourage economic development, improve neighborhoods, and boost values of adjoining properties.
The Town Brook project has great potential to boost Jacksonville. This is an investment in our infrastructure — physical and social. Please get involved.
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Written by Steve Warmowski