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home : news : news   June 24, 2016

6/7/2014 6:07:00 AM
Sign a petition and help the towpath

Sign the petition:
Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

There is a section of the Illinois and Michigan Canal towpath that keeps washing out — even a few inches of rain will do the trick — and a La Salle man wants the state to fix it once and for all.

Lenny Matuszewski has created an online petition asking Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, to permanently fix the “major safety risk” on the towpath between Utica and Buffalo Rock State Park.

The petition has drawn 75 signers.

“This portion of the trail has been washed out since early 2013 without even an attempt to fix it,” Matuszewski wrote on the website. “Makeshift and very unsafe crossings have been made by users but continuously get destroyed.”

NewsTribune archives show the section of towpath is prone to flood-related damage. The section was rendered impassable following floods as far back as 2007.

Utica fire chief Ben Brown, for one, would like to see the washout corrected, as the problem spot can add 10 crucial minutes to the response time when his crew is dispatched to the vicinity.

“Every time we have to go down to the east end of the tow path — and we’ve had six instances this year — it requires us to go to Buffalo Rock and work our way back,” Brown said. “It increases the chance of accidents for us, because we can be there at all hours of the day and night, and have no place to turn around.”

Todd Volker, an Ottawa cyclist, agrees the section of towpath is in bad shape. Besides riding the towpath, he plans to camp there this summer with his son and would love to see the section fixed for good — but he said he doubts the petition will solve the root issue.

“IDNR doesn’t have any money,” Volker said. “I think that’s the real problem.”

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, June 9, 2014
Article comment by: fosterbw99

This article leaves many questions unanswered. Like what is the IDNR Budget and what do they do with it? It is not as simple as Mr. Volker’s claim that the “IDNR doesn’t have any money” because it does. One income stream that is shooting through the roof is the excise tax collected on firearms and ammunition. I think the issue that needs reporting is how IDNR uses its budget. Among the questionable uses are PARC Grants which fund largely urban recreation facilities. The City of Peru is reportedly looking for a $500,000 grant from the IDNR to fund a splash pad, parking lot, and other park improvements. Readers may also wonder why the NT sought the opinion of “Ottawa Cyclist” Mr. Volker. It should have been mentioned that Mr. Volker was one of the architects of the LaSalle County Forest Preserve District and Chairman of the Forest Preserve Board for its short existence. The district was created by a ballot initiative in the wake of a previous IDNR funding scare that threatened state parks. When the voters fully understood what a locally funded forest preserve district was, they promptly rejected it at the township level. So, Mr. Volker is not simply an “Ottawa Cyclist.”

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