When walking the Streator Greenway Trail, a park board member suggested the name of the new trailhead park could be “Mission Impossible.”
Another chimed in: “No, mission accomplished.”
The trailhead park near the intersection of Madison and Broadway streets and the 1.47-mile Greenway Trail should be complete by Friday, Aug. 17 — a project many years in the making.
The trail, as it is, is safe for the community to enjoy at this time. The park still needs mulch, electricity and plumbing work for the bathroom and picnic tables added, but all of it is expected to be done by the end of next week. A ceremony to officially cut the ribbon in the park is expected soon.
Streator residents who have followed the news may know the Greenway project goes back to 2002. The city put together a plan to cash in on state grants to clear a trail and create parks along the Vermilion River.
After missing out on grant applications, the plan was updated to give the city a better chance.
When it was finally awarded $400,000 in 2015, the state was unable to pay due to its impasse, so the city waited again.
Once the funds were available after the state passed a budget, however, the city had to change plans.
Originally, the city was going to create Hardscrabble Park at the end of Cedar Street as the trailhead, but ComEd will need to clean up the land before that project can proceed. The land still is set aside for future recreational development, but it will be years down the road before the city can utilize it.
Not wanting to waste the opportunity of the state grant, the city devised a plan to put a trailhead park at Broadway and Madison streets, equipped with the necessary exercising stations to get the grant.
The trail, which extends from the trailhead to the end of West First Street, also features solar lighting, garbage cans and mile markers dotting it.
Despite all the barriers thrown their way, city staff, council members and the park board worked hard to see the plans through — and they are not done.
There are further plans to extend the trail to Oakley Avenue, add canoe launches, connect a trail system to Spring Lake Nature Park and possibly Marilla Park, in the future.
Setting up an extensive recreational trail system along the Vermilion River, and connecting attractions to it, will give Streator residents a new outdoor opportunity that previously wasn’t available. This will help with the quality of life of residents and help attract visitors looking for hiking, biking and nature activities.
Improving the quality of life within the city and putting itself on the map as an attraction for visitors should not be overlooked. Taking these steps can boost property and sales taxes collected.
Credit goes to the city officials and volunteers who wouldn’t let this project fade away. Too many times it’s been halted for various reasons. Progress had to be made, and now the city has momentum. We’re excited to see this project continue to move forward.