Vermilion County assembling funding for rail trail
DANVILLE — The Vermilion County Conservation District is pulling together the funding pieces for its portion of a planned recreation trail on an abandoned railroad line between Kickapoo State Park and Urbana.
The district has scheduled a special meeting this week to seek a short-term loan to purchase Vermilion County's portion of the Kickapoo Trail. The district board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Zack Hickman Room of the Visitor Center at Kennekuk County Park, 22296-A Henning Road, Danville.
Earlier this month, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District paid the CSX Corp. about $600,000 for the Champaign County segment of what eventually will be a 24.5-mile trail between east Urbana and Kickapoo State Park on a CSX abandoned rail line.
The Vermilion County Conservation District is spearheading the purchase of the Vermilion County portion of the trail, which the district will own and manage, except for a section that will run through Kickapoo State Park.
Ken Konsis, director of the conservation district, said the funding to purchase Vermilion's approximately 11-mile portion of the abandoned rail line is in place in the form of grants or reimbursement money from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
But the district needs to purchase the property and then the two state agencies will release the grants and other funds to the conservation district.
So, the district is seeking a short-term loan from the Conservation Fund based in Virginia to cover the purchase price, which will be about $582,038, Konsis said. And, he said, the interest from the loan will be covered by the Champaign County Design & Conservation Foundation, which is a private group started about 50 years ago to conserve natural areas and beautify Champaign County and has been a key promoter of this trail.
Konsis said a Natural Resources grant will cover about a third of the purchase price, and a Transportation grant will cover about another third. The rest will be covered by Natural Resources, which will pay a little more than $200,000 for the portion of the Vermilion County trail section that will run through Kickapoo State Park.
State and federal grants covered the $600,000 purchase of the Champaign County portion. Now, trail organizers are beginning the next phase of grant applications and fundraising to pay for construction of the trail that will parallel U.S. 150 between Kickapoo and Urbana.