MENDOTA – The Mendota City Council heard mostly unfavorable comments from the citizens in attendance at an Aug. 12 public hearing in regard to a proposed multi-use pathway.
The city has applied for a grant through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, that if successful in obtaining, would allow for construction of a 10-foot wide asphalt multi-use pathway on the south side of U.S. 34 beginning at First Avenue and continuing east to Fairview Church Road near Road Ranger. The pathway could be used for both walking and bicycling.
John Pakenham, who owns a house that would be impacted by the pathway, asked why the pathway has to be built on the south side of the road? City engineer Ed King said about one-quarter mile of the approximate three-mile path already has a sidewalk at the Mendota Community Hospital property, and proposed IDOT bridge replacement over the Little Vermilion Creek would also have a sidewalk on the south side.
Pakenham said industrial businesses where people ride their bikes to, specifically Del Monte, are mostly located on the north side, so he feels that is a better location for the pathway.
“This is a foolish plan to me,” Pakenham said. “It makes no sense to me to disrupt my property when I'm sure businesses on the north side would not have a problem with this. This would ruin the value of my property. I've already had realtors tell me that. How many of you up there would want this in your front yard?”
Carol Ramer also spoke in opposition to the pathway, suggesting looking at engineering for a pathway to the new YMCA or the high school.
“We have many areas in the city that would benefit much more than where you want to put this,” Ramer said. “There are places a lot more feasible than ruining peoples' property. Get it on the north side of the road where there are the beneficiaries.”
Another property owner that would be impacted by the pathway said 80 percent of the trees would be taken down from his front yard.
Ramer added that this pathway is not offering a benefit to the people. “Put it on the north side of the road. It's a simple thing.”
“Who is going to benefit from this?” asked Pakenham. “The businesses are going to benefit. I'm not. My property value is going to go down.”
Mayor David Boelk said there is quite a bit of bicycle traffic going east on U.S. 34 and this pathway would help from a safety standpoint.
Pakenham reiterated that he doesn't think anyone on the council wants a bike path and retaining wall in their front yard. “I hope you seriously consider not putting this on the south side of the road,” he said.
The grant would be 80 percent funded by the government and 20 percent by the city. Any lighting done along the pathway would be a 50/50 split. King said there would be two rest areas along the way – one by MCH and the other on the east side of Super 8 Motel. He also said there would be several crosswalks to get to the other side of the road and they would be marked with a flashing beacon light.
“The purpose of the program is to give the public another option to get from Point A to Point B,” noted King. “There is pedestrian traffic to Del Monte and the hospital, so this would be another good option for them to travel more safely.”
Following public comments, King said from an engineering standpoint, the option of putting the pathway on the north side of the road could certainly be studied.
The council will consider all comments and concerns from the public in making any decisions.