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Daily Journal
     March 30, 2022      #23-89 KDJ

Park board approves feasibility study for

KANKAKEE — The Kankakee Valley Park District Board took the next step in possibly repairing Beckman Harbor at its meeting Monday in the Bird Park Administration building.

By a 3-2 vote, the board opted to contract with Piggush Engineering to complete a feasibility study on Beckman Harbor at a cost of $50,000. Board President Ray Eads voted in favor of the measure along with commissioners Michael Matthews and Bill Spriggs. Board members Dave Skelly and Don Palmer voted against it.

Dayna Heitz, executive director of KVPD, said the feasibility study will start in approximately three to four weeks, and it will take another eight to 12 weeks to compile and present.

“They are behind on projects due to the weather,” Heitz said.

The harbor’s north wall collapsed after heavy rains drenched Kankakee on Oct. 2. The harbor was closed shortly thereafter, and all boats were removed. The harbor remains closed to the public.

Park District Risk Management Agency, who insures the park district’s property, determined in November that the damage was caused by long-term soil erosion and therefore not covered by insurance.

Now the district is exploring its options on how to fix and pay for repairs.

In January, a preliminary estimate to rebuild the harbor to its previous state came in at $3.2 million by Hoffman Estates-based Leopardo Companies, the construction company that rebuilt Splash Valley in 2020. The board then reached out to Piggush Engineering in February.

Palmer expressed concerns about silting in that section of the Kankakee River.

“This would undermine the long-term viability of a $3 million-plus public investment,” Palmer said in an email Tuesday to the Daily Journal and fellow board members. “As community leaders, I believe that we need to take a pause and expand the conversation to include the Army Corps of Engineers and others to assure that the Kankakee River remains viable as a recreational river.”

Eads responded to those concerns in an email, saying the vote taken Monday concerned only proposals for reconstruction of the docks.

“Once the proposals are presented to the Board, we will then decide if, how, and when to proceed,” Eads wrote. “We may decide not to move forward with the reconstruction of the docks based upon any number of considerations. That decision will be made once the engineering study is completed.”

The board will next hold a committee meeting at 5 p.m. April 11 at the Bird Park administration building.

Boat ramp to be closed

Piggush Engineering made a recommendation to close off the east wall of the harbor, which means that river access will not be allowed through the boat ramp in Beckman Harbor.

"The ramp will be closed down in April," said Dayna Heitz, executive director of KVPD. "That way nobody will get hurt. We can’t predict what the weather will be or the [possible] flooding.

"If the east wall would collapse while somebody is pulling in or out, that would be a huge problem. We really don’t know the lifespan of it, and that’s not something we want to take a chance on."

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