La Salle Rotary Park is ahead of schedule but a few more steps are needed to wrap up phase one.
“We’re about ten steps ahead already of where we would be otherwise,” said Gary Gearhart, chairman of the park development committee, Monday night during a committee meeting.
In particular, by having contractor John Pohar and Sons spend time last fall leveling the ground for a Senior League baseball diamond that will be included in phase two of development the project is further along than originally planned. While work on phase two will likely begin this fall, according to Gearhart, the committee is now focusing on completing phase one.
The sooner that project is completed, the sooner the city will receive a $400,000 reimbursement from the state through a previously awarded Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant.
“We don’t want to hold the city up on reimbursement,” Gearhart said.
To get to that point a few steps still are needed to meet the requirements of the grant. Key among those steps is placing four interpretive signs on the park grounds.
Some of the topics likely to appear on those signs, based on committee conversation Monday night, are the role of La Salle Rotary Club in creating the park and the history of mining in the area, particularly in regards to Illinois Cement Co., which donated nearby land to the city for parkland.
Committee members Andy Bacidore and Alissa Gearhart will be leading the effort to determine the style and content of these interpretive signs.
The committee is anticipating a grand opening for the initial phase of the park, which includes soccer fields, playground and a fishing pond, for late May.
Matthew Baker can be reached at (815) 220-6933, or firstname.lastname@example.org.