Herald-Whig View

Bill Klingner Trail enhances rich parks system

Posted: Apr. 15, 2018 12:15 am

WHEN Scott Koontz visited the Bill Klingner Trail last year, he saw the kind of active greenways system that enriches Quincy residents and will attract new people to town.

"I was blown away with all the people -- the kids and the bikes and the pets and all that stuff," Koontz told The Herald-Whig.

Dale Koontz Builder donated a 1.3-acre easement off North 24th Street in the Drakewood subdivision to the Quincy Park Foundation last week. It was the final easement along the trail route between 24th and 36th streets. With that in hand, the Quincy Park District can now apply for grants to complete that segment of the trail.

When completed, the trail will stretch from Bonansinga Drive along the riverfront to North 36th Street, creating a three-mile corridor for biking, hiking and walking enthusiasts. It will connect several Quincy parks or landmarks as part of a Quincy Greenways and Trails plan that was adopted by the City Council in 1999.

The trail concept dates to at least the 1940s when Klingner, the late engineer for the Quincy Park District, proposed a walking, biking and recreational trail parallel to Cedar Creek.

Klingner was a man ahead of his time, seeing the potential of walking and bike paths at a time when few cities were considering the need for green space or recreational assets.

Klingner's vision has been adopted by countless individuals, groups, businesses and governmental units that are working together. The city of Quincy and Quincy Park District joined forces in 1994, starting obtaining conservation easements along Cedar Creek.

The first portion of the trail between 12th and 18th streets opened in 2009.

The second portion between 12th and Fifth streets opened last year after the Quincy Rotary Club donated more than $100,000 for construction of a 258-foot bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.

State Street Bank donated $5,000 last month. Bank President Mike Mahair said he and family members "ride the trail, walk the trail and bring the grandkids out."

A contract on the trail between 18th and 24th streets is expected to be let by the Illinois Department of Transportation in June, with construction starting this summer. The Park District received a $792,000 grant through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program to help fund the project. Friends of the Trails also has pledged $350,000 toward the estimated $2.4 million cost of the segment.

Funds also are being raised to complete a section of the trail extending from Fifth Street to Bonansinga Drive.

Quincy has about 1,000 acres in its parks system, conveniently located within easy walking distance of almost all of the city's neighborhoods. Trails to connect these parks will enhance already valuable assets and provide scenic corridors for recreation and transportation.

With each segment of the trail that's completed, Bill Klingner's vision becomes a little clearer, and Quincy neighborhoods become a little more inviting.