Carpentersville lost an online popularity contest over the weekend that would have secured a $33,000 grant for continued improvements at Keith Andres Memorial Park.
The park, the village's largest, was a finalist for a grant from Bell Helmets in partnership with the International Mountain Biking Association. The Chicago Area Mountain Bike Riders (CAMBr), tasked with turning the park into a mountain biking destination, wanted to use the money for a continuously looped, bermed and rolling dirt course called a pump track, which lets riders maintain momentum so they don't have to pedal.
CAMBr needed the public to vote for the project online. The contest ended Sunday and the results were announced Monday.
"I'm disappointed but we gave it a good attempt to win the money," CAMBr President Mike Angus said. "We're doing a great job there, we've just got to keep at it."
Bell Helmet is awarding up to $100,000 in technical assistance grants for three projects across the country, and Andres Park lost to Cottage Grove Bike Park in Cottage Grove, Minn.
The contest began April 21 and it was between Andres Park and Cottage Grove Bike Park from the beginning.
In 2012, the village board agreed to let CAMBr build bike trails in the park that was known as a dumping ground and a haven for illegal activities. CAMBr, which is raising money for the project, cleaned up the park with its volunteers and started trail and other work last spring.
CAMBr has spent $30,000 to date and the entire undertaking could cost up to $250,000 and take several years to complete.
The park was named after Keith Andres, a 20-year-old Army soldier from Carpentersville who was killed in 1967 during the Vietnam War. It was the only park of the four finalists named after a veteran.
Those are facts former Carpentersville Trustee Brad McFeggan, also a local veteran, displayed on his Facebook page when he encouraged other veterans and friends to vote for the park.
"The honor of the park, being named after this veteran and the fact that the village hasn't had any money to dedicate to fixing up this park, the fact that this private organization wanted to come in and put purpose to it and the village was 100 percent supportive of it, I was like, 'Here's our chance, to do right by the name and his family members,'" McFeggan said.
Local promotion was robust.
West Dundee and East Dundee officials spread the word about the contest and several people from Carpentersville encouraged their friends to vote for it on Facebook. Several businesses in Carpentersville handed out fliers and Main Street Bicycles entered voters into a raffle to win one of two bikes.
Angus is heartened by the outpouring and says the group can only build on the momentum.
The grant would have given the group the injection they needed to finish the park quicker. But now that they've lost, the project will continue.
"We're going to carry on developing," Angus said. "As we raise money, we'll just build up the park slowly."