FOR RELEASE | Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Montgomery, IL –Village officials have unveiled plans detailing various improvements to Montgomery Park (301 N. River St.) and the Mill Street Bridge in the downtown riverside area. Renderings depict two expansive memorial areas flanking the Fox River, a Veterans Memorial, and a two-sided tribute to First Responders and Essential Workers in honor of their sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project, already gaining the attention of State Representatives and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, will also include shoreline restoration, rehabilitation of the historic mill raceway and turbine, a multi-use stage/gathering area, and lighting and improvements to the Village's iconic Mill Street Bridge.
"The past two years, we have watched our police, fire, EMT, medical, and educational professionals give their blood, sweat, tears, and lives for others as we dealt with the ongoing effects of the COVID crisis," says Village President Matt Brolley. The well-timed memorial to local first responders and essential workers for their selfless sacrifice during the pandemic will be the first of its kind in the region. A second memorial area, the Veterans Memorial, will stand adjacent to honor local heroes' military service in honor of their willingness to dedicate their lives to our freedom and country. Village officials will work with the VFW, fire districts, school districts, police departments, and local medical and education professionals to coordinate the design to reflect the Village's Veterans, First Responders, and Essential Workers.
The Village has already been awarded two grants for the project. State Representative Stephanie Kifowit championed the Village to secure a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to fund the Veterans Memorial and reflection area along the river. Additionally, a $10,000 ComEd Green Region Open Lands Grant will help with costs related to the shoreline restoration. Brolley adds, "We are grateful for the support of this project from the state-level from Representative Kifowit and the local level from the Fox Valley Park District. This project will enhance not only the park itself but also move forward the long-term vision and master plan for this area of town." The remaining project funding for the facelift will come from the Village of Montgomery.
While the two granite stoneface memorials are the highlight, the plan also includes a permeable paver area at the park's south side decorated with large canopy sails for shade and community gatherings. The Village opted for this plan over a traditional stage to provide flexibility for large events such as Montgomery Fest, allowing a portable event stage to be used as the downtown Mill District grows. In addition, updates include shoreline restoration and rehabilitation of the historic mill raceway and turbine that powered a local mill until the early 1900s and is still visible today, although in dire need of restoration. Finally, the Village has budgeted for resurfacing, painting, and new lighting for the Mill Street Bridge separate from the park renovation, but plans for most of the two projects to be complete come late summer 2022 in time for the annual Montgomery Fest (August 19-21). Still, work will continue into spring 2023.
Montgomery Park, owned by the Fox Valley Park District, is north of Montgomery's newest downtown development, The Gray's Mill Estate nestled along the Fox River and River Street in the downtown area. Plans presented to the board are considered a public document within the agenda packet for the January 24 meeting. More information is at montgomeryil.org.