SYCAMORE – The Sycamore Park District plans to create a safer path for Sycamore Middle School students, using a $632,600 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The grant will be used for the first of two phases of the district’s plan to extend the city’s park trails.
The first phase connects Route 23 near Sycamore Middle School to the Brickville Road parking area, which has access to Leon Larson and Sycamore Lake parks. It also widens and resurfaces the half-mile path along Route 23 from the Kishwaukee River bridge to Maplewood Drive.
Park Board President Ted Strack said the school and community have been working with the park district to establish the trail connection because of the need for a safer path for students.
“This creates better access for kids to get to school without having to go on the roads,” he said.
This connection will cost $790,750 in total, with the district contributing 20 percent, or $158,150.
Executive Parks Director Dan Gibble said the state program that provided the grant is paid for through a federal transportation act that had not been funded for several years.
“Once Illinois had its money, IDOT moved pretty fast,” Gibble said. “We had our grant application ready; we were just waiting for funding to come through to submit the application.”
Extending the trails is part of the district’s Action 2020 plans, which are budgeted to cost $13 million provided through $9 million in property taxes, $3 million in grants and $1 million from fundraising.
Strack said the board likely would apply for two grants to fund the second phase of trail construction, which is planned to connect the Great Western Trail to Old Mill Park.
“The second phase will be quite a bit more expensive,” he said. “It could be divided into two pieces to maximize the amount we can receive in grants.”
The second trail extension will be longer and cross over the Kishwaukee River twice, requiring two new bridges, Strack said.
He said that next year, construction will begin on the first phase, and the board will apply for grants for the second phase.