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Article updated: 12/14/2011 12:56 PM

State to release $8 million for Elgin's Riverside Drive promenade

City fixes accounting error; work may start this spring

By Tara García Mathewson

Though the best-case scenario finish is still one year behind schedule, Elgin's Riverside Drive Promenade is one step closer to getting started.

The state awarded the city $8 million in October 2010 but has continued to hold the money while it asks the city to properly account for $100,000 of an unrelated Elgin project funded by the state.

In the end, Mayor David Kaptain said it's $100,000 compared to an $8 million project and the state has agreed to let plans move forward while the accounting is straightened out.

Kaptain expects bids to go out this winter with demolition of the existing Riverside Drive parking deck getting under way in the spring.

"The state's money will get the base of the project done," Kaptain said, pointing to removal of the parking deck and construction of the new structure. "The enhancements will be up to us."

Back in February 2010 the entire project was planned for $13 million with extras like pavilions and scenic overlooks. Hitchcock Design Group drew up the early plans.

Project Manager Tim King said the idea was to stimulate business activity along the river and continue riverfront improvements the city has been working on for the last decade.

The existing parking deck will be removed and replaced with a pedestrian promenade, bike path and roadway connection, King said. Plus, the design is for LED lighting and paving with special materials that absorb stormwater.

"The city is really committed to incorporating as many environmentally sensitive and sustainable elements to the project as possible," King said.

Plans also include planting deep-rooted vegetation to help clean stormwater before it hits the Fox River.

The city needs to hire a construction manager who would be able to start in the spring and start the yearlong project. Hitchcock Design Group would oversee the work until its completion.

Kaptain said the project will give the community a chance to come back to the river after turning away decades ago. Incoming restaurant Chooch's Pizza plans to build a patio facing the water -- a first, Kaptain said, for as long as 75 years.

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