The Kankakee Riverfront Society is looking for public feedback from the public on the upcoming East Riverwalk segment of what will become The Currents of Kankakee. The East Riverwalk is the first segment of the project described in the 2018 Kankakee Riverfront Master Plan.
The East Riverwalk is planned for the southeast corner of Schuyler Avenue and East River Street on three properties that the City of Kankakee expects to acquire this year. The project’s master plan is anchored by the Kankakee River and features a package of distinctive public attractions, multi-modal connections, and lively commercial and residential development.
The East Riverwalk is likely to include a gateway plaza, a boat dock, a canoe/ kayak pull-out, a small parking lot and other improvements. Hitchcock Design Group will deliver a Preliminary Design Report, near the end of the year that will be instrumental for community outreach and fundraising.
Kankakee Riverfront Society has not established a timeline for construction of the East Riverwalk. The project is funded by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In announcing the public outreach initiative, Kankakee Riverfront Society Chairperson Staci Wilken stresses that despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the Kankakee Riverfront Society, City leaders and the City’s riverfront consultant are eager to share important information about the project. The riverfront team is also eager to learn more about the community’s understanding of and expectations for the East Riverwalk.
Kankakee Riverfront Society is looking for feedback from the community on a number of aspects to come forth in the project, including future amenities and a formal name for the East Riverwalk. The public outreach will continue until completion of the Preliminary Design in early 2021.
“The website is the best place to get up-to-date information about this transformational project,” explains Wilken. “The website includes a project summary, a location map, a schedule of key milestones and events, consultant information and contacts if you have information to share or questions about the project. The website also has a link to a brief, but important community survey.”
Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, Kankakee Riverfront Society Vice Chair and riverfront visionary, urges everyone in the community to take a few minutes to complete the online survey. “We had an overwhelming response in 2017 when we first asked the community about the future of our riverfront. Now we need to refine our understanding of the community’s expectations as we design the first segment of what will become The Currents of Kankakee.” Preliminary results of the survey will be made public in early September.
The group is planning an onsite event on September 17 to acquaint the community with the East Riverwalk property and to gather additional feedback. The event is being carefully organized to manage the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Details are expected to come in the next few weeks.
Earlier this year, the City of Kankakee was awarded $134,000 Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to acquire two of the three East Riverwalk parcels. Joe and Scott Franco, Heritage Development and Construction, plan to donate the third parcel, which will also serve as the City’s “match” to qualify for the OSLAD grant. Consequently, no taxpayer funds are being used to acquire the East Riverwalk sites.
The Currents of Kankakee brand for the Kankakee Riverfront was created and is owned by the Kankakee Riverfront Society. Preliminary Design of the East Riverwalk is funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered by the City of Kankakee Economic and Community Development Agency.