Monday, November 9, 2015

Belvidere plans to turn vacant lot near Coachlite apartments into city park - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


Ben Stanley
Staff writer

Posted Nov. 8, 2015 at 2:15 PM
Updated Nov 8, 2015 at 4:54 PM

BELVIDERE — A small park outfitted with a miniature soccer field could soon replace a patch of trees and grass in a densely populated neighborhood on the northwest side. The park is essentially cut off from the rest of the Belvidere park system.
Some aldermen say the site needs a small city park because children from the neighborhood must cross busy streets to reach recreational areas. Others say it would have made more sense to develop the land and collect the tax revenue.
The city approved a deal in October to acquire the parcel just west of the Coachlite apartments from Byron Bank and turn the lot, bordered by Christi Lane and High Line Street, into a public green space. The lot is vacant, except for the trees and a line of mailboxes, and it's surrounded by dozens of apartment buildings.
The city agreed to pay Byron Bank $10 for the land and split the cost of a soil study — about $1,800 — to be completed this fall.
"It was an excellent opportunity to do something in that neighborhood," Mayor Mike Chamberlain said. "We're going to create a small playground with a mini soccer field and a park in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of green space."
The neighborhood is cordoned off by North Appleton Road and North State Street, which accommodate heavy traffic and could be hazardous for kids to cross. And it's more than a mile from Spencer, Belvidere, Doty and Prairie Field Sports parks.
"Some of these kids, if they’re 6 or 7 years old, they’re not going to be walking to those parks," said Ald. Wendy Frank, R-3, who voted in favor of the deal, as did Daniel Arevalo, R-2; Thomas Ratcliffe, R-3; Ronald Brooks, R-4; and George Crawford, R-4.
"It already was a green space," said Ald. Mark Sanderson, R-5, who opposed the agreement. "We have a park district that’s supposed to be taking care of parks. We shouldn’t be in the business of running parks in the city. They could’ve had apartments there or something like that. This takes it off the tax rolls." Also voting no: Clayton Stevens, I-1; Clinton Morris, I-1; Daniel Snow, R-2; and John Sanders, I-5.
The mayor broke the council deadlock.
"It’s a great thing for the city and great thing for the kids," Frank said. "There are hundreds of apartments out there and why not give these kids something?"
Once the soil study is completed, Chamberlain hopes the city can begin work this fall on the parcel — removing brush, planting grass, etc. — and complete the park by spring. No cost estimate was available.
Ben Stanley: 815-987-1369;; @ben_j_stanley

Belvidere plans to turn vacant lot near Coachlite apartments into city park - News - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL

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