By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — FULTON, Ill. — An unexpected turn of events has offered Fulton leaders something they had been hoping to see in the river city— a community park in the Third Ward.
During a Fulton City Council meeting last week, City Administrator Ed Cannon announced the city received a property donation from Wells Fargo for a 140-foot-by-140-foot parcel of land in the city’s Third Ward. With that donation, Cannon suggested the city utilize this free property acquisition to develop a municipal park in an area where it’s greatly needed.
“It’s just short of half an acre and Wells Fargo wants to donate that property to the city. They will pay all the closing costs, they will pay any outstanding utility fees so there’s no cost to the city,” Cannon said. “This property is in a great location and I think it would be a fantastic location for a community park.”
In addition to his suggestion to accept the donation, Cannon also suggested the city should pursue an open space lands acquisition development grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help build the park.
By accessing possible grant money, city leaders would be able to equal the 50 percent match requirement using revenue generated by video gaming lottery systems. Those are funds that alderman Randy Boonstra suggested be set aside more than a month ago for the development and improvements of city parks.
“We have $29,000 in the budget for parks,” Boonstra said. “We’re going to spend $13,000 at the Andresen property for a circle drive and $4,000 for something else. Now, were down to about $10,000 left in the park bank. Can you build a park for $10,000?”
While the OSLAD grant will assist the city, Cannon still didn’t think they would be able to complete the development this year because of a lack of funding and resources. But they will still be able to designate the property as a park and slowly expand the area over the next year.
The first step is to clean the space up, clearing concrete slabs that are still present from the house and garage that formerly occupied the lot. Public works director Dan Clark volunteered his department for the job, saying it wouldn’t take too much man-power or money to do so.
“We can finish cleaning it up inhouse, with nominal fees,” Clark said. “Then what I’d like to do is put some costs together (for playground equipment) and then bring it to the council and let you guys decide.”
In order to qualify for the OSLAD grant the city must turn in its application to the Illinois DNR by July 1, an incentive for Clark and the city crews to get started on the clean-up process as quickly as possible.
Amy Kent can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.