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A new bicycle club for Jacksonville, Illinois will be launching next week. Morgan Cyclists bike club’s first ride will be March 25th, starting at 5:30pm at Village Cyclery, 1407 Village Lane, South Jacksonville, IL 62650. The club will have rides every Wednesday — routes of about 15 miles, complete within 2 hours at your own pace.

Here’s how to join . . .

Here’s the upcoming schedule and other notes from organizer Harry Ford . . .

  • April 1 – 5:30 – Bahan’s Yeah, right. (Hey, your wheels are turning backwards. Hey, you have a mudstreak up your back. Hey . . . April Fool!) A foolish ride to be determined.
  • April 8 – 5:30 – YMCA lower parking lot.
  • April 15 – 5:30 – Village Cyclery for a taxing taxday ride through the countryside.
  • April 22 – 5:30 – The Soap Co. Coffee House, Earth Day Ride (new info).
  • April 29 5:30 – Village Cyclery Let’s make this a fitness ride, a workout to get ready for the rest of summer.
bicyclists mount up to start ride

Jacksonville cyclists at the 2014 Town Brook Ride.

Remember May is National Bicycling Month – Since 1956 the League of American Bicyclists has promoted May as National Bike Month, a nationwide celebration of all things biking. It makes sense – rites of spring and freedom. And it is an opportunity to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try. Whether you bike to work or school; ride to save money or time; pedal to preserve your health or the environment; or simply to explore and have fun, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride.

What can we few do locally to develop awareness or to create an event or simply to entertain ourselves?

Weekend Rides in May – We will, in addition to our Wednesday evening rides, do a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon ride each weekend in May. Anyone have ideas for themed rides, special routes, whatever? Let’s hear them.

Noteworthy May biking events –

  • May 2. Tour de Stooges Lebanon, IL. A fundraiser for the Ridge Prairie Trail Initiative. Group trip?
  • May 6. Bike to School Day. Encourage kids to bike to school today (for starters).
  • May 11-15. Bike to Work Week
  • May 16. Bike to Work Day.
  • May 20. Ride of Silence. Our Wednesday May 20 group ride will be a bit different. Ride of Silence is a world-wide group ride occurring in thousands of communities simultaneously. It seems that Jacksonville should shed its provincial shell and become part of the world occasionally. This is one occasion. We will honor riders who have been killed or seriously injured in cycling accidents. Details will come.
  • May 24. Bike the Drive. Ride Lake Shore Drive in Chicago WITH NO MOTORIZED TRAFFIC. Surreal, right?

The main purpose of the non-competitive bike club will be to get people out to ride. The club will also boost efforts to encourage bicycling in the community and support the Jacksonville Park Foundation.

Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation on Facebook. Contact Harry Ford with questions

Facebook links to other community cycling groups . . .

Jacksonville, Illinois 62650 has a new disc golf course at Foreman Grove. Located on the east end of Jacksonville at Old State Road/Old Jacksonville Road and the crossing of Mauvaisterre Creek/the Town Brook at Johnson Street.

Here’s a quick map of the course. Baskets are in as of Saturday May 10, 2014. Tees will be put in with the week, and an opening ceremony will be in the next couple weeks. Download hi res map by Guido Strotheide of the Springfield Illinois Disc Golf Club.

Guide to Jacksonville Illinois Disc Golf at Foreman Grove: Top is North (College Ave-Old State Road/Old Jacksonville Road), left if Johnson Street, blue at bottom is Mauvaisterre Creek/Town Brook. (revised 22 May 2014)

Guide to Jacksonville Illinois Disc Golf at Foreman Grove: Top is North (College Ave-Old State Road/Old Jacksonville Road), left if Johnson Street, blue at bottom is Mauvaisterre Creek/Town Brook. (revised 22 May 2014)

Illinois College students Nathan Zimmerman and Caleb Harris pushed for the course, put in by the city of Jacksonville. They, along with MacMurray College students Janson Shehorn and Cydny Saxer and others, have been working with the Parks & Lakes Department on plans for a course in the little-used park. They raised funds from sponsors donated via the Jacksonville Park Foundation to the city. Funds also came from the city of Jacksonville’s Goveia Family Trust, and parks funds. More photos . . .

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Foreman Grove Disc Golf, Jacksonville Illinois.

Please be welcome over to Jacksonville to check out our new disc golf course. Saturday May 17th 2014 is the Downtown Celebration, and you can make a day of it in Jacksonville including a 5k, fun run/walk, fun ride, long bike ride or nature walk on the Town Brook. Or bring your mountain bike and take part in the first werewolf ride of the season at Audubon Woods Trails. More to do listed at Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

From Springfield, Illinois get to Foreman Grove via Old Jacksonville Road/Old State Road; or take I 72 to Exit 68 and take first right to get up to Old Jax.

Posted by Steve Warmowski

Jacksonville mountain bikers have developed trails at the Audubon Woods preserve, located at the east end of Mauvaisterre Lake on Woods Lane between Vandalia and Country Club roads. Every Saturday after the full moon, cyclists will meet at sundown, strap on lights and ride the trails. Check for updates on the Jacksonville, Ill Trails group on Facebook.

Spider web backlight by cyclist

First one on the trails gets to clear the spiders!

The first ride of the year 8:10 pm Saturday May 17th coincides with the Downtown Celebration and the Jacksonville Town Brook run/ride/walk. If you’re coming to Jacksonville, consider making a day of it and doing the Town Brook 5k and/or Mauvaisterre Ride 17.5 miles in the morning, taking in the Jacksonville Main Street events in the day, and capping off the day by riding in the woods. Register for those events at


2014 Werewolf Ride schedule (at sunset)
Saturday May 17
Saturday June 14
Saturday July 12
Saturday August 9
Saturday September 6
Saturday October 4
Saturday November 8
Saturday December 6

Please check the group page before going out. Event will be called off it the trails are too muddy to use without damaging the tracks with too much rutting.
Note: the public can use the trails at any time, but don’t go in the mud! It takes too much volunteer time to fix ruts. Event is crowd-sourced, and not an official event of any organized group or organization.

Posted by Steve Warmowski

Earlier this month Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Department of Transportation announced $52.7 million in grants for community transportation projects. The IDOT’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program puts federal funds back into local communities. The program is designed to promote alternative transportation options, including bike and pedestrian travel, along with streetscape beautification.

Take a look at the projects — when you do the math . . .

  • 93% of grants went to recreational trails, improving bike transportation and pedestrian projects
  • 7% went to sidewalk and pedestrian projects (included in 93%)
  • 7% went to streetscape beautification, like making highways to O’Hare pretty, or pretty railroad stations, or pretty bricks in downtown Petersburg

So to slice the numbers 93 percent of funding went to transportation alternatives, and 84 percent of the funding went to recreational trails and bike transportation like the projects suggested locally of a bike/run route to and around Lake Jacksonville, a recreational trail along the Town Brook, a bike route along State Street (including connections east to Sangamon County on Old State Road and west along the old Northern Cross Route).

Compare this to the 2013 IDOT ITEP projects, when only 47 percent of funding went to recreational trails and bike transportation. Jacksonville was lucky enough to be selected for Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grants for both segments of the Downtown Turnaround, including the upcoming work on North Main. With the current priorities towards transportation alternatives, it looks like Jacksonville timed the downtown revival work just right!

Looking forward to the future, the best chance the Jacksonville community has to land more of these grants is to work together to develop recreational trails, bike routes, pedestrian safety improvements and other transportation alternatives! Please join up with the Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation to work with local governments to get this done.

Written by Steve Warmowski


A plan is in the works to bring a Disc Golf Course to Foreman Grove, on Jacksonville’s east side. Illinois College students Nathan Zimmerman and Caleb Harris made a presentation recently to the city’s Parks & Lakes Committee. They, along with MacMurray College students Janson Shehorn and Cydny Saxer and others, have been working with the Parks & Lakes Department on plans for a course in the little-used park.

The group so far has approached businesses to sponsor the nine holes on the course (Jacksonville businesses have precedence on hole sponsorships). That and other funds raised, along with interest on the city’s Goveia Family Trust the Parks & Lakes Committee recommended be used to support the project, could allow for completion of the course this spring. The course will be walking distance from Mac and is on the planned route of the Town Brook recreational path. Disc golf is popular amongst high school and college students, and will be a great recreational resource along Jacksonville’s waterways.

City approval for the disc golf course is expected Monday Feb. 24th during the Jacksonville city council meeting. A Parks & Lakes Committee meeting is at 6pm (probably focused on the senior center); discussion during workshop session at 6:30pm; and hopefully a vote during the city council meeting starting at 7:30pm. Come out to the meeting to show your support, check the Town Brook Twitter feed for updates.

For more information or to sponsor a hole contact Nathan Zimmerman (below). Donations can be made to the project by mailing a check made out to the Jacksonville Parks Foundation (indicate Disc Golf in memo) to Laura Marks/JPF Treasurer, Jacksonville Savings Bank, 1211 W. Morton Ave., Jacksonville, IL 62650. (217) 245-4111

Thanks to Brittany Henry of the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for passing on information from the state tourism newsletter about Trails for Illinois.

Trails for Illinois‘ mission is to enhance the quality of life in Illinois by connecting the state’s communities and countryside with an interconnected, multi-use public trail network, and by promoting the use of trails for recreation and transportation (from their Facebook page Trails for Illinois).

Their latest report (press release) shows recreational paths boost local economies. The proposed Town Brook recreational trail in Jacksonville, Illinois 62650, mountain biking trails created by Jacksonville mountain bikers, and a proposed bicycle route out to and around Lake Jacksonville bring people into town, draw cyclists who spend money at  restaurants and other businesses, and give a place for healthy living. The non-profit Trails for Illinois research was on larger trails in northern Illinois, but their results imply benefits for smaller trails. Lance Brooks from the Jacksonville mountain bikers said cyclists from Petersburg and elsewhere in the region have been coming in to Jacksonville to use the Audubon Woods trails. Creating paths and routes for bicycling, running, walking, roller blading and other uses would bring people into town. And, local recreational opportunities would reduce trips to Springfield, Chatham and other trail locations by Jacksonvillians – keeping their money in the local economy.

From Trails for Illinois Making Trails Count in Illinois report . . .

  1. Economic ImpactPeople spend money locally while using Illinois trails • 35% of respondents spent money in restaurants and bars • 17% spent money in grocery stores • $1–50 was the most commonly reported expenditure • $30.40 was the average of all reported trail visit expenditures
  2. Environmental ImpactPeople are frequently spending time in nature on Illinois trails • 30%+ of trail users surveyed reported visiting the trail 21 or more times during spring, summer and fall in the past year • 1–2 hours per visit is what trail users most commonly reported spending
  3. Health ImpactPeople are using trails to maintain and improve their health and fitness • 32% of trail users expected to spend more than 150 minutes on the trail during their visit • 41% of trail users surveyed were female • 55% of trail users reported being 46–65 years old • 16% reported being 66 years old or older

Read the report for more details. Watch YouTube presentation. Support efforts of (Facebook, Twitter).

Posted by Steve Warmowski

We had a great turnout Thursday 21 February 2013 for the Jacksonville Town Brook Improvement Project Community Input Day. Engineers said in other towns they’ve sat around for a day while two people stopped in. This time they had a steady stream of people from the community coming to give their input. Thanks for your support!

Farnsworth Group sent two of their planners — Bruce Brown, a landscape architect, and (Jacksonville native) Kevin Hannel, engineer. (Neat side point — Bruce’s uncle was the first president of the Naperville Riverwalk 30 years ago, mentioned before in our blog. The walk is one of the community features that puts the Chicago suburb at the top of the best places to live in the United States. We can have a little bit of that here in Jacksonville!)

Highlights are below. If you don’t see your idea, you still can be heard by emailing ideas @townbrook_com or call Lori Oldenettel 217.370.4597 before the end of the month by Thursday 2/28. Farnsworth Group will work with all the ideas and suggestions, and present a master plan the city can follow in the future.

One of the best parts of the day was during the time for people who live next to the Town Brook. Two different families came, both expresses interest and excitement with the project. They hoped the project would address some of the flooding and maintenance along the Town Brook, and were receptive to the idea of public use of the land behind their homes. “People have walked there for years and enjoyed it.” So what we’re proposing with the Town Brook isn’t a radical new idea – it’s formalizing what already happens unofficially, and invites the whole community to take advantage of this community resource.

Another highlight of the day was during the city official segment when Bruce Surratt of the city’s Parks & Lakes Department said he’s been fielding numerous phone calls from people who want to know when they’re going to be able to start using a path along the Town Brook. “Are we going to be able to ride along the Town Brook Path to get out to the lake to watch the 4th of July fireworks” Surratt reported one enthusiastic caller asked. It’s great to see how much excitement this project proposal is garnering in the community!

To sum up the day, it looks like the anchor points of a Town Brook recreational path will start at Illinois College/YMCA and follow city land to MacMurray College. Along the brook add trees and put in wildflowers that grow knee-to-waist tall. A path along the brook at certain points would divert onto neighboring sidewalks or streets. There would be side paths off the Town Brook recreational path to pull in destinations such as the downtown Jacksonville, Washington School, Franklin School and Community Park. Focus also on improving the health and flow of the stream.

The beginning and end points can later be extended to run to Wal-Mart and future development west of Jacksonville along the US 67 corridor, and connect with a bike route to Lake Jacksonville via Massey Lane and Airport Road; beyond MacMurray a bike route can run on Routt Street, connect to the Our Saviour School fields plus railroad land south of College and Foreman Grove. After that connect north along Mauvaisterre Creek to the north end of town, connect with Pioneer Woods and the Pioneer Heritage Foundation Zion Park off east State Street, pedestrian bridge at the Old State Road bridge gets people back on State Street east past the Gen. Grierson Home and back to MacMuarry College and downtown Jacksonville.

Farnsworth Group will present an outline study to the city council sometime this spring. The city then needs to go ahead to Phase 3 which would be a more extensive study and planning. Please keep communicating with your city alderman your support of this project, and your support of funding Phase 3!

Extended notes:

The day was broken up into half-hour blocks set aside for different members of the community, such as city leaders, colleges, adjacent property owners and business.

Special Studies Jacksonville Town Brook Improvement Committee & City Council Members
The day started with city officials, from the city council, administration and the Special Studies Jacksonville Town Brook Improvement Committee. Kelly Hall of the Inspections Department said planning for land to the east of Lincoln to MacMurray College will be easiest, because it’s already owned by the city or has easements. Bruce Surratt of the city’s Parks & Lakes Department said he was getting phone calls from community members excited about the project (above). Bruce pointed out the “Looking Back” feature in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier talked about getting funding to take down the quad buildings on the square 10 years ago, and like the downtown project it’ll take some time to get from planning to progress. He said other communities like Springfield were lucky to have abandoned rail corridors to convert from rails to trails. While Jacksonville, as a railroad center, still has all their rail lines active. “We don’t have a blank canvas, we have a torn up canvas that needs to be fixed.”

Lots of mention was made of trash (fast food bags, wrappers, napkins) blowing in off of Morton and into the Town Brook. Alderman Don Cook, who was part of the fall cleanup, said the section that his crew made spotless is now full of trash again. Challenges of enforcing littering laws is that you have to catch people tossing. Maybe a fence could be put in at the back of business to catch blowing trash. Also, as the Town Brook becomes a park, and a path, and people walk around and see trash with a big logo on it, it’ll come back to that business and they’ll take responsibility for their trash. Giving attention to the Town Brook will bring civic pride and involvement, that would encourage businesses to take steps to keep their trash out of the parkway.

Illinois College’s Larry Zettler (city’s special studies committee) said the Town Brook is a great resource for educational opportuntities. Not just for science, but for all students. MacMurray College’s Nadine Szczepanski (also of the city’s study committee) said students from Mac as well can help plant native grasses and wildflowers and make for a beautiful and clean brook through town. Both college professors love the project. The brook can also have WiFi hotspots, allowing for outdoor labs and for on-site classes on the Town Brook.

City should be open to private donations. Farnsworth Group guys said companies, corporations, donors won’t give for maintenance, but will donate a shelter, benches, etc. things that are visible.

Farnsworth Group suggested anchors to start and end the path, like Illinois College/YMCA to MacMurray College. The end points can expand later to Wal-Mart and west (connect to bike route down Massey Lane, Airport Road and to Lake Jacksonville) and to Foreman Grove and east to North East side of town.

Main Street/Jacksonville Visitors and Conventions Bureau

Brittany Henry of the Jacksonville Visitors and Conventions Bureau gave some ideas for places in town for a path to connect to. The designers suggest that you tie in connections to the Town Brook path, to places like downtown square, schools like Washington, and historical sights like the Grierson Home.

A path could go north/east from Foreman Grove on the east side of town, east side of Mauvaisterre Creek; to the Pioneer Heritage Park and then over the old State Street crossing (removed) with a pedestrian bridge; head west back into town hitting the Grierson Home; and back into downtown square and reconnect to the path via the Main Street connection.

Jacksonville Main Street interested in the connecting downtown square and businesses to traffic on the Town brook path at the Main Street crossing. Farnsworth Group previously presented scenic overlook drawings, and this would be the spot to really play up the brook. Put in a rock wall bank, nice trail, pretty flowers. Maybe even close the Mauvaisterre Street East/West off Main and turn that area into a wide spot in the creek, with a little dam to make a pool, water fountain or other water feature.

Outdoor nature classrooms, for use by colleges or by grade schools or junior high. Can add other amenities like open spaces, sand lot baseball, ice rink, restrooms, shelter, places to grill out.

Illinois College & MacMurray College

MacMurray is tearing down Blackstock Hall, in floodplain on south campus. Will be part of a green space that community can use. Mac is interested in having the Town Brook path go right through campus. Farnsworth Group was happy to get this info, because they didn’t know if they had to work around the campus.

Illinois College representatives were also excited about the project, and would love to connect both campuses via a bike trail. Something like this would give recreational opportunities for students, faculty, staff and tie the community into the campus. The Town Brook would also beautify the south side of campus, and welcome people to the college.

Adjacent Property Owners – mentioned above.

Landowners from Fayette Court and West Chambers attended. Said people have walked along the Town brook for years, and enjoyed it, acts as a short cut to Morton Avenue. People use the Town Brook now, just not officially. Interested in adding trees, making area nicer. Added benefits of clearing up flow to reduce flooding. Farnsworth Group said in other communities along a bike path neighboring properties could get a $5,000 boost in property values. Helpful for resale. Plus in new developments that include paths, lots directly adjacent to the path sell first and have higher value.

Woods Lane Bike Group/ Other Bike Groups

The Woods Lane Mountain Bikers were not able to come (they all had to work the snow) but Steve represented them. They’ve build a great system of trails off Woods Lane around Lake Mauvaisterre. They would like to see a bike path that connect the Town Brook path to their bike network, then on to Lake Jacksonville and a new mountain biking network. They also offered manpower to work along the Town Brook.

Other cyclists (road) have said the Town Brook path can be a safe way to get cyclists out of town where they ride low-traffic country roads. A Town Brook path would help the creation of a bike path to Lake Jacksonville.

General Public – due to snowstorm, no members of the general public came. Farnsworth Group engineer and landscape architect talked to WLDS radio reporter, then headed home.

Random notes

Timeframe on Brook — some things can start soon, like planting trees and putting in wildflowers. Can have project in different phases. But to transform the whole stream might take 20 years or more.

Suggestion was made to include windmills or other alternative energy generation on the parkway as a demonstration project. Bruce Brown said this could be part of the lighting on Town Brook. Said there’s LED lighting system with poles 12-15 foot off the ground, no underground cables, with devices to capture solar and wind energy. Important not to do ground-level lighting, which can create dark spots and require more lighting than an overhead system. Some spots might have emergency call boxes (like the blue-light stations on Illinois College campus).

Improve health of stream, give place for fish. Re-meander in spots, riparian areas.

Connect to Jacksonville history, connection to Underground Railroad, freed slaves would move into city along Town Brook and later be taken to Underground Railroad homes for safe keeping.

Plant prairie, mix of native wildflowers and grasses that would grow to about waist high. Would need to prairie smoke management every three years to control invasive and protect prairie. Dry prairie.

Decking — have flat areas with access to water in Town Brook.

You can put up a temporary ice rink on a spot of grass along creek (about $5,000 for walls etc to make rink). Harkens back to historic Ashelby Pond near current County Market where people would skate, ice would be cut out and stored in an ice house for use in ice boxes, plus city later used pond as a water source for municipal water supply.

Kayak Water Park — no whitewater in town, but there’s some pretty deep pools in Mauvaisterre Creek on the east side of town. Check out the waterway at the closed State Street crossing sometime (east side of creek, by the Pioneer Heritage Park).

I called around tonight and talked to some members of the Morgan County Garden Club. One member, Martha Vaché, said a friend was one of the people involved on the ground floor of the Naperville Riverwalk. I’ll have to get her contact information, see if she has any ideas for us, and get some inspiration! One thing to note is that Naperville is consistently listed as one of the top places to live in the country (they come in at number three this year). The first paragraph of their city summary states:

The popular Riverwalk is a nearly two-mile brick path that follows the DuPage River’s course through town.

Can you imagine having that resource in Jacksonville? A place where a family can safely walk through town. At some future phase maybe even connecting to a safe route to bike out to Lake Jacksonville? (A top fishing spot in the whole state!)

I photographed a wedding last summer in Naperville. And one of the places the bride had to go, to get images that defined the town, was to the Naperville Riverwalk. We might have a smaller body of water with our brook, but it still can be a great place for a walk!

A wedding party makes their way on a path next to the DuPage River and the Naperville Riverwalk park.

A wedding party makes their way on a path next to the DuPage River and the Naperville Riverwalk park.