ROCHELLE — It appears Deer Creek and its surrounding vegetation in Skare Park will be returned to its original state through a large mitigation project.
Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District commissioners voted 6-0 on Monday night to enter into a contract with Land & Water Resources, of Rosemont, which not only will beautify the scenic park west of Rochelle, but will also provide a minimum of $250,000 for future development of Skare Park.
Local engineer Tom Huddleston and Land & Water Resources manager of operations Randy Vogel asked the park board to agree to a contract that allows full reconfiguration of the creek and putting in natural prairie grass on each side between the park’s two walking trails.
“This is really an exciting project for the park district and for Skare Park,” said Huddleston. “It could really gain some attention regionally and even nationally.”
Huddleston explained that the project came about when the Army Corps of Engineers was looking for a replacement project within the watershed after a Rock Island Airport expansion forced the mitigation of a stream near Moline.
Vogel said there is virtually no risk for the park district as once the agreement is in place, the Army Corps of Engineers assures the project will be completed.
“The park district would receive at least $250,000 from us to allow this project, while Rochelle Township High School students will be able to send some environmental classes out to study the ecology, monitor the site and provide studies for future use,” Vogel stated. “It’s really a good deal for all parties and will be a great project for Skare Park.”
Park director Roger Bunger echoed Vogel, saying he believes the results will be great for the area and visitors to the park, but he questioned Vogel on how the firm decided the amount of payment to the park district.
“Originally, we were told maybe we would received $350,000, but now it’s $250,000. What has changed?” he asked. “How do you arrive at the numbers?”
Vogel responded that credits are awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers and until the project is approved, there is no guarantee on how it will shake out for Land & Water Resources in the future.
“We are guaranteeing you $250,000 no matter what happens, but there is some risk on our part, because it’s a $1.6 million project and we just won’t know everything until the Army Corps of Engineers reviews and finalizes it all and they have very stringent standards,” Vogel said.
Following a short discussion by board members, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the contract with Land & Water Resources.
Park staff raises
Following Monday night’s regular meeting, commissioners met in closed session to discuss personnel.
After emerging from the short meeting, the board voted to give 5 percent increases to Bunger and office/program manager Maureen Stevens. Maintenance superintendent Don Elliott received a 2 percent increase, while recreation supervisor Jackie Ohlinger and accounts payable manager Jillian Wise both received $1 per hour raises.