Fishing pier project gets big boost

At center, James Maurer, Illinois vice president of external affairs for AT&T, presents a $5,000 check to Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith Monday night at City Hall. Also pictured, from left, are Sarah Deutch, Shawn Kennedy and Tim Birk from the City of Waterloo. (Kermit Constantine photo)

The dream to have a handicap accessible fishing pier in- stalled at Waterloo’s Lakeview Park is now very close to reality following news that the city has been awarded a $41,900 grant for the project.

On Saturday, Governor Pat Quinn announced $16.5 million in investments for 46 local park projects across Illinois, including a grant to install the fishing pier and parking area off Stockel Lane at Lakeview Park.

The projects are funded through the state’s Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Total cost of the fishing pier project, according to Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith, is estimated at a little more than $82,000.

Smith credited State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) for putting in a good word to IDNR about the project.

Funding recipients are required to contribute at least half of the total project cost, and that’s where contributions from the community come in. The Waterloo Odd Fellows last year donated $20,000 toward the project, and other donations have come in from the Prairie State Energy Campus ($3,000) Harrisonville Telephone Company ($2,500), Little Caesar’s Pizza ($1,500) and Waterloo Optimists ($1,000), among others.

But there was more good news to bolster this project than just the state grant — AT&T presented a $5,000 check toward the effort during Monday’s meeting of the Waterloo City Council.

“It’s amazing all the support we’ve received to this point,” he said. “Hopefully more organizations will step up to the plate.”

Huebner Concrete will donate dirt work for the project, and the county has also pledged to donate work for this project. Project plans call for an American Disabilities Act compliant floating fishing pier featuring a six-foot-by-30-foot ramp, 16-foot-by-24-foot platform, handrailing and two bench seats. A handicap accessible parking area next to the new pier is also proposed. The inspiration for this pier is 18-year-old Chris Douglas of Waterloo, an avid fisher who is confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.

“He just loves to fish,” his mother, Debbie Douglas, said in an interview for an earlier article. “He would sit out there all day (and fish) if we would let him.”

Construction of the new pier could begin later this year if all the pieces fall into place.

For more information on how to support this project, call Waterloo City Hall at 618-939-8600.

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