The Official Opening for Phase I of the Riverfront Trail was held Friday, October 13, 2009, noon, at River Road Park of Kankakee Valley Park District. Norm Strasma, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley introduced the organizations involved in this cooperative project. The project was outlined in the Kankakee County Greenways & Trails Plan of 1999. Active committee work on the project began in 2004, with federal funding approval acquired in 2006, followed by local government commitments.
The Community Foundation is the convener of the governments cooperating on the project, with the City of Kankakee serving as the fiscal agent and recipient of the federal grant. The contract was completed by Kankakee Valley Construction Company ahead of schedule. This project is on the south bank of the Kankakee River and provides a new safe route to Kankakee Community College and Splash Valley Aquatic Center.
The west end starts at the Aqua Illinois property at Hawkins and Water Streets, goes along the river by Shapiro Developmental Center, Kankakee River Valley Forest Preserve, by Kankakee Community College, and connects with River Road Park and Splash Valley, of the Kankakee Valley Park District.
A federal grant of $400,000, plus local funding of $300,000, is providing funds for the project. Local financial partners are: City of Kankakee, Kankakee Community College, Kankakee County, Kankakee River Valley Forest Preserve, Kankakee Valley Park District. Easements have been provided by Aqua Illinois and the State of Illinois, for the Shapiro Developmental Center. The Community Foundation has served as convener of this group for the last five years.
Special credit is due to the leaders who earlier essentially completed Phase III – the trail connecting LeVasseur Park in Kankakee, Helgesen Park in Bradley, Perry Farm of Bourbonnais Township Park District (1994), Cavalier de LaSalle Park (1998) & Riverfront Park (2001) in Bourbonnais.
This event is a “Green Legacy” Project of the Burnham Plan Centennial event.
The year 2009 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Burnham’s and Edward Bennett’s “Plan of Chicago”, one of the world’s first and most visible comprehensive regional plans. Burnham’s admonition to “make no little plans” has been a guiding principle for Chicago and for generations of planners and builders in cities around the globe. One hundred years later, the Burnham Plan still inspires us to be visionary, think regionally, recognize the value of beauty and conservation, and act deliberately to turn our plans into reality for the benefit of all the people of the region.
“Our region’s interconnected network of open spaces and natural areas – greenways and trails, wetlands, parks and forest preserves -- link communities across our region from southeastern Wisconsin through Illinois to northwestern Indiana,” said Joyce O’Keefe, Openlands, which is dedicated to protecting the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region. “One of Burnham’s enduring legacies is a commitment to preserving the region’s open space and lakefront. Across the region, more than twenty “Green Legacy” projects are underway to close critical gaps in this system.”
More than 250 Partners including museums, professional associations, civic and community organizations, educational institutions and others are collaborating to develop programs that will shape the Centennial and engage a broad audience.