Scott Mennie sworn in as newest Hennepin board member
HENNEPIN — The village of Hennepin was hoping to be able to cut the ribbon for a new bridge onto the Marquis Oak Ridge Trail by the Fourth of July holiday, but there’s a substantial amount of red tape to be cut through first.
The village has the support of the land owners involved in the project, which will begin at the end of Third Street and span Coffee Creek. It will allow hikers and cyclists onto the new 2.7-mile trail, and hikers will also be able to continue on into the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.
Additionally, hikers and cyclists could use the trail as part of a loop traveling back toward the village on state Route 26 and onto Hennepin’s new bike path on High Street.
Although Village President Kevin Coleman has previously said the Durley-Boyle Charitable Trust was amenable to the idea of funding the project, the solicitation of donations is also likely. However, no firm estimation of costs for the pre-fabricated bridge project is known yet.
During the Feb. 21 Hennepin Village Board meeting, village engineer Bill Shafer received approval for $15,000 toward continuing the permit process, which has likely become more complicated than expected.
Along with the concept plan and preliminary surveying work, there will also need to be an initial archaeological survey, soil cores will need to be taken, and there will also be a 90-day review period that will include work with the Illinois EPA, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The archaeological survey isn’t expensive, but it takes time,” Shafer said.
There’s additional concern about impacting the habit of Indiana bats, an endangered species. Shafer said he’ll be contacting the Wetlands Initiative, the organization managing the refuge, to see whether any of their services could be used to help expedite the process.
“We’ll also need to determine that it won’t negatively impact the wetlands and we can’t do that until growing season, which will likely be April,” Shafer said.
“I know we were hoping to have it open by the Fourth of July, but that’s just not going to happen,” he added.
Board member Quentin Buffington said that the village had already approved $4,000 for the preliminary work and that with the additional $15,000 approved at the meeting, the costs were becoming a concern without a firm funding commitment from the Durley-Boyle Charitable Trust.
“I don’t think we want to be this financially deep into this project and then have the trust tell us it was more than they wanted to spend,” he said.
While no final costs are known, it was suggested it could easily approach $200,000, if not more.
Fire Department flagpole
The village and the fire department came to a friendly solution about the flagpole that was accidentally knocked down at the department by a village snowplow around Christmas.
Larry Brown, speaking on behalf of the fire department, said the 35-foot flagpole will cost $2,000 to replace. The village agreed to contribute $1,000 toward the new pole on the condition it could have the old pole, which will be used to create a 20-foot pole for the village.
The solution came about as a fair trade-off as the village has been plowing the department’s parking lot at no expense for approximately 20 years. Additionally, the department provides various work for the village at no cost, and both sides wished to continue their friendly and reciprocative relationship.
In other board news
• The board is asking WIPFLi, the Sterling-based accounting firm the village uses for its annual financial audits, to provide a one-year proposal letter rather than a three-year proposal. The village will then be seeking proposals from local accounting firms and may be changing firms for next year’s audit if financially beneficial to the village.
• The board approved the following donations: six bottles of wine for the Steve Johnson benefit fundraiser; $300 for the Putnam County Rotary’s Afterglow event; $100 for the Red Cross; $100 for the YMCA Dolphins Swim Team; and $100 for the North Central Behavioral Health Teen Showcase.
• The board approved a $15,400 budget for the annual fireworks display.
• Scott Mennie was sworn in as the newest board member.