SYCAMORE – The Sycamore Park District is getting a grant of about
$1.7 million to help connect its trail system.
The park district’s grant application with the Illinois Department of Transportation was one of 53 approved for 2018 out of more than 200 submitted, and the funds will help with the district’s
$2.2 million plan to expand the Great Western Trail, according to Dan Gibble, the park district’s executive director.
The grant will pay for three-quarters of the engineering and construction cost for a less-than-mile-long paved trail from the Sycamore Forest Preserve – the current western end of the trail – to the Brickville Road parking access to Sycamore Lake and Leon Larson parks.
The first of the three segments of the trail going from Sycamore Middle School to Brickville Road was funded by an IDOT grant awarded to the Sycamore Park District in 2016. Construction for that segment begins this summer, Gibble said.
The park district plans to submit an application to the state program to fund the final segment of the trail, Page Street to Old Mill Park, during the next granting cycle in 2020. Gibble said the trail will be almost all the way across Sycamore once the first two phases are complete.
“We’re piecing that puzzle together,” Gibble said.
Gibble said the park district hired an independent survey company to talk to residents in 2011 and 2013.
In those surveys, the Great Western Trail connection projects were the No. 1 priority for those residents, and that’s how it ended up in the park district’s $13 million long-range plan called ACTION 2020.
Gibble said six other projects came up in those surveys that became part of the 2020 plan, including a community center that recently opened, a soccer and baseball complex, a new water irrigation system at the park district’s golf club, a dog park and a splash pad.
“Everybody wants everything, but you can only afford so much,” Gibble said.
Even if the park district didn’t get those grants, Gibble said, it’s still in the city’s plan to find funding for the projects. A tax rate increase in 2014 and a $1 million fundraising campaign for the projects will help pay for it regardless, he said, but it would take a lot longer to complete them without the help of grant money.
“Certainly, the grants make it very much more possible,” Gibble said.