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Daily Journal
     March 8, 2022      #23-67 KDJ

Riverfront agreement now signed by all

By Lee Provost

KANKAKEE — All three organizations sought to endorse The Currents of Kankakee have signed on to an agreement that will move forward the much-discussed Kankakee Riverwalk development along a 4-mile stretch of the banks of Kankakee River.

At Monday’s Kankakee City Council meeting, council members endorsed the project by a 13-0 vote, which now formally puts in place commitment to the project by the city, the Kankakee Valley Park District and the non-governmental, volunteer group, the Kankakee Riverfront Society.

The park district and the KRS previously approved the memorandum of understanding agreement by unanimous votes.

“This is a big accomplishment,” Staci Wilken, KRS president, said after the council meeting concluded. “This has been unanimously supported and approved. Now it’s full steam ahead.”

The next step will be to begin advertising for an executive director who will be center point for beginning to seek out and raise capital to begin development of the concept. The salary for that position will be funded by the three entities.

Already secured are plans for the first phase of the project, the East Riverwalk to be located on a 1-acre parcel at the southeast corner of East River Street and South Schuyler Avenue, just blocks from downtown Kankakee. The price tag on the project is an estimated $3.25 million.

The goal is to gather government grants, Tax Increment Financing district money and private donations to develop the riverwalk. Public officials have said the project will not be carried on the backs of Kankakee taxpayers.

After the council meeting, Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis said the groups have roughly 18 months to get the funding secured for the project’s first phase. He said by Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, the groups should have a good idea as to the success of fundraising.

Regarding the sought-after executive director for the riverfront society, Curtis said a “creative, hard-driving” person will be the target. Advertising for this person should be underway soon with hopes of having a person selected by mid- to late-May.

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