Mundelein, Winthrop Harbor park projects on hold due to halted grants

State grants for Mundelein, Winthrop Harbor among those on hold

  • The Mundelein Park and Recreation District's plan to expand its Chalet in Community Park is in limbo after Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that state grants are "indefinitely suspended" while he tries to fix the state budget.

      The Mundelein Park and Recreation District's plan to expand its Chalet in Community Park is in limbo after Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that state grants are "indefinitely suspended" while he tries to fix the state budget. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Posted3/14/2015 7:31 AM

Improvement projects at a Mundelein park and a forest preserve in Winthrop Harbor are among the Lake County plans left in limbo by Gov. Bruce Rauner's suspension of park grants while he tries to fix the state budget.

As recently as January, 72 communities around the state were set to receive $26 million in grants under the Department of Natural Resources-managed Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program. This week, Rauner announced those grants, as well as Park and Recreational Facility Construction grant funds, have been suspended indefinitely, leaving park districts across the suburbs unsure what to do next.


"Many state programs are running out of money because majority party legislators knowingly voted for a budget that intentionally left our state with a $1.6 billion hole," said a statement released by Rauner's spokeswoman. "As a result, the governor's budget office is taking actions necessary to address the fiscal crisis that the governor inherited."

A $2.4 million grant to the Mundelein Park and Recreation District is among those on hold.

"We were awarded a PARC grant this past October," district Director Margaret Resnick said Friday. "We have been informed the grant has been 'suspended,' but we do not know if this means a delay or a withdrawal."

The money was to go toward a planned $3.2 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion at the Community Park Chalet, 888 Dunbar Road.

"We are very disappointed, as the additional 10,000 square feet of indoor recreation space is needed in Mundelein," Resnick said. "We were going to be able to offer some new programs that we currently can't offer."

The cuts don't merely affect park districts.

Lake County Forest Preserve District officials are facing the loss of a $263,700 grant they had planned to use to increase recreation opportunities at Spring Bluff Forest Preserve in Winthrop Harbor.

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Crews were set to convert an existing asphalt road into a gravel hiking trail and to construct a wildlife observation platform.

The grant would have covered half of the estimated $527,400 cost.

District officials got word the grant was approved Jan. 2. The bad news came March 9, said Katherine Hamilton-Smith, the district's director of public affairs and development.

"We received a letter stating that the grant is suspended," she said.

The future of the project now is uncertain.

"It is always disappointing when project money disappears, whatever the reasons for the disappearance," Hamilton-Smith said.

Projects in Cook County and other suburban regions have suddenly stalled, too.

In Arlington Heights a long-discussed upgrade to the grounds at Lake Arlington is on hold, Parks Director Steve Scholten said.


The $400,000 grant would have included widening and repaving the path around the lake, adding exercise stations along the path, adding a fishing pier, expanding the boating dock and landscaping improvements, he said. Though the project was only in the planning stages, Scholten said they had hoped to start work this fall.

"Now, we just have to wait and see what is decided," he said. "Obviously we want to complete the project. Once Springfield makes a decision, we'll be able to move forward."

Projects in Mount Prospect, Des Plaines, Hanover Park and other communities are in doubt now, too.

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