City Looking At Options To Fund Remainder of Lake Jacksonville Trails Project

By Benjamin Cox on May 9, 2023 at 4:02pm

The City of Jacksonville is going to have to get creative to complete a project at Lake Jacksonville started nearly 3 years ago.

The bike and walking trail for the Lake has been an ongoing wish for the city since the initial trail was completed. The city applied twice for the grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in order to finish a pedestrian and bike trail to combine both sides of the lake. The connection from the north side to the south side near the old spillway will allow people on either side to more easily enjoy the facilities at Lake Jacksonville.

Benton & Associates Engineer Greg Hillis told the City Council last night that both bids received for the project came in over the projected cost estimate. Rouland Construction was the low bidder at $244,403, which includes a bridge. That total is nearly $27,000 over budget for the project.

Mayor Andy Ezard says there’s a number of ways the city can go about funding that remaining $27,000 to get the project completed: “There is realistically four options where we can take it out of. One is the general funds since we are already supplementing the parks & lakes system with general funds money. We could grab it out of there. Another option would be the interest the city is collecting off ARPA funds – the American Rescue Plan Act funds the city received from the federal government. We have kind of set our parameters on where we are going to spend it. However, we do earn interest off of that while we wait to spend it. That may be the area where we look to finish the bridge, which is a one-time shot of money. Then, the other two options that were mentioned in the meeting was the tax revenue from cannabis sales that we receive and gaming. Gambling money we have historically put aside for projects. We have done the [I3] broadband project with that, but I don’t know where we are at as far as that fund now being replenished or is getting near replenished. That fund would make sense, too.”

The new portion of the trail will not be open to UTVs and golf carts and land approximately 100-200 yards away from the nearest property. A timetable on construction of the new section has not been given, pending action by the city council on the final funding piece.