Updated: Aldermen Want Donor Dollars Upfront for Kennedy Road Bike Trail
City officials are exploring pushing back the deadline before rejecting the $1.4 million grant for bike path over the city's cost share.
Quick update Thursday at 9 p.m.: State officials extended the deadline to Aug. 1 for Yorkville officials to decide if they want to build the Kennedy Road bike path. That means donors and officials have six extra months to determine how (and if) the city will pay the $357,320 that represents 20 percent of the total project cost.
City leaders are ready to reject a $1.4 million grant for a bike path along Kennedy Road unless a citizen’s group can find donors for the city’s $357,320 cost within a matter of weeks or months.
Illinois Department of Transportation officials had asked Yorkville officials to commit to the project by the end of January so they could start the engineering process. But aldermen on Yorkville’s Public Works Committee asked City Administrator Bart Olson to seek an extension in light of a group of business leaders interested in privately raising the city’s match for the grant.
“I get a feeling (IDOT officials) are flexible,” Olson said. “How much more flexible I don’t know.”
The 2.72 miles of trail would run along Kennedy Road from Route 47 to Mill Road, which is just south of Galena Road. There is a sidewalk along a portion of that section of Kennedy Road. The sidewalk sits on the south side of Kennedy Road from Route 47 to near Christy Lane.
“Ultimately, the Kennedy Road trail would connect Yorkville to the Fox River Trail (total 46.2 miles), the Virgil Gilman Trail (17.2 miles) and the Illinois Prairie Path (61 miles) in addition to a number of shorter area trail systems,” Laura Schraw, Yorkville’s interim director of Parks and Recreation, wrote in a Nov. 4 memo.
A new group called Push for the Path had offered to raise money on behalf of the city over six years, but aldermen said they don’t want to burden the city’s budget if private fundraising efforts run short.
“If you have a shortfall – and I’m not saying you will – we have to guarantee it,” Ward 1 Alderman George Gilson Jr. said, adding that the city didn’t have money for major road improvements and other basic city responsibilities.
Push for the Path is led by Lynn Dubajic, executive director of the Yorkville Economic Development Corporation; John Ammons, of Wheatland Title Guaranty and president of the economic development corporation’s board; and local real estate agent Maureen Sharp. Bill McCue, whose sister-in-law Darlene was killed in 2009 when she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bike along Kennedy Road, spoke in favor of the group at Tuesday’s committee meeting.
“I’ve had business owners outside of Yorkville calling saying they’d like to write a check,” McCue said.
The group would seek private grants and build on an annual golf outing that has raised upwards of $40,000 a year for scholarships memorializing Darlene McCue.
Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling criticized her fellow aldermen for not being more supportive of the second citizen initiative to surface to raise private funds for local pathways.
“It’s called being fiscally cautious, Diane,” Gilson replied.
Gilson, Ward 2 Alderman Larry Kot and Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo urged the Push for the Path organizers to find a way to fund the city’s portion of the project upfront.
“I don’t want a commitment,” Colosimo said. “I want a check.”
The matter is set to be discussed again at the committee’s next meeting Feb. 21.