McHenry City Council approves $2.27 million in Miller Point renovations

Miller Point on McHenry's Riverwalk along the Fox River and Boone Creek on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.

A spray pad water feature will be included in plans for Miller Point Park, even though the McHenry City Council was cool to the idea.

The council voted 5-2 on Monday to approve a $2.27 million plan for renovating the park at Riverside Drive and the Fox River as part of its overall development. Third Ward Alderman Frank McClatchey and Sixth Ward Alderman Patrick Devine voted against the proposal.

“I am for everything but the splash pad,” McClatchey said. He and others questioned whether a turf area, not included in the proposal presented to the board this week but as an option that could be added later, might be a better use of monies budgeted for the project.

“I would love to trade the turf for the splash pad,” Fifth Ward Alderman Shawn Strach said.

Parks and Recreation Director Bill Hobson noted the spray pad is not a traditional splash pad play area, but a water feature that shoots up water from the ground with lighting and that can be turned on and off at will.

“It softens the hardscape,” Hobson said. “It is not the flower or the bucket that falls over your head. You would not know it is there until you push the button and walk through it.”

McHenry Riverwalk Foundation board President John Smith also informed the board that on Monday, a potential donor reached out to him asking specifically about funding the water feature.

Another donor has offered to fund the pavilion included in the park plan. Set for the point of the park, that donation could be for up to $300,000, Hobson said. He expects finalization of that donation by the end of the year.

Of the total cost for this phase of construction, $750,000 is already in the 2022-23 budget, Hobson told the Northwest Herald. Another $250,000 would come from developer park fees, $250,000 from the tax increment financing district, $250,000 from the Rise Up Foundation’s summer concert, and the rest from the general fund in the 2023-24 city budget.

Hobson did not include the potential pavilion donor or a spray pad donor in those numbers.

The council also asked if it can pay itself back later from the TIF funds for any general fund expenditures for the park.

Currently, the downtown TIF does not have enough money available now for both the Miller Point project and the Riverwalk’s fourth phase, Hobson said. However, if more funds come into the TIF, the city could transfer funds from it back into the general fund.

Hobson was also told this week the Illinois General Assembly voted Thursday to extend the TIF district. Originally set to sunset in 2025, the extension allows 12 more years.

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