OREGON – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is considering a Shabbona golf course owner’s offer to pay $400,000 to repair the Black Hawk statue in exchange for a 50-year lease on 100 acres of Shabbona Lake State Park.
Indian Oaks Golf Club owner Bruce Novak wants to expand the nine-hole course that adjoins the park to 18 holes.
“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” Novak said. “I was looking for 100 acres to use for the golf course. It’s a win-win for Black Hawk, for my golf course, and for the Shabbona state park.”
He made the proposal in an email to state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, and Demmer presented it to IDNR officials last week.
“The department is willing and interested in reviewing this idea,” Demmer said. “It’s an outside-the-box proposal.”
The IDNR has jurisdiction over state parks, including Lowden State Park near Oregon, where the statue overlooks the Rock River.
The department has lease agreements for property in other state parks, and has asked Novak to submit a formal proposal outlining the acres he wants. Officials will review the proposal to determine the short- and long-term effects to the environment, wildlife and habitat, and park operations.
“Pending the outcome of the review, they may go ahead,” Demmer said.
Although it also is considering other options, “it’s encouraging that the IDNR is willing to look at this,” he said.
Novak emailed Demmer after hearing him say at a recent news conference that donations are being accepted to complete Black Hawk repairs.
Oregon Together, a volunteer organization, recently formed a Black Hawk Restoration Team to raise the estimated $500,000 still needed to repair the statue’s crumbling surface. Member Roger Cain has talked to Novak, but declined to comment on the proposal.
Created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to Native Americans and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009, the 48-foot statue has been ravaged by weather and time.
Over the years, despite numerous repair efforts, parts of the statue have crumbled and fallen off. Winters especially have been devastating. In fact, it has been encased in protective wrap for four years, but IDNR officials have agreed to remove it sometime this month in order to generate more interest in public donations.
If funding permits, repairs will start this summer and finish in summer 2019, the IDNR has said.