Wilmington earns $500,000 in ARPA funds for dam improvement

THE DAM ON THE Kankakee River, seen here prior to installation of the fence on the South Island park, has proved to be deadly over the past several decades, taking the lives of at least 16 people since the mid-1980s. The city of Wilmington will receive $500,000 from Will County's allocation of Amercian Rescue Plan funds to help address changes to make the dam safer. Free Press file photo.

Marney Simon

Several agencies in Wilmington and Braidwood will benefit from Will County’s latest allocation of American Rescue Plan funds.

The latest allotments were approved by the Will County Board on May 18, and include a combined $43 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars for infrastructure updates, payroll assistance, and health and well being programs.

Of those funds, $15.9 million were reserved for infrastructure improvements in 37 agencies in Will County, including municipalities, townships, water districts, fire districts, and a museum.

One of the big winners is the city of Wilmington, which is set to take away $500,000 in funding earmarked for removal of the hydraulic roller and installation of a rock ramp to decrease turbidity to address life and safety at the dam on the Kankakee River.

City leaders said that the project is currently in the preliminary stages, so details are limited.

However, based on a 2017 study conducted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) that compared the costs of changes at the dam, those funds, while helpful, will only extend so far.

Options for modification of the dam would cost the city between $3 million to $4 million to complete, per that analysis, which is already six years old.

City leaders noted that now that the funds have been allocated, discussions will be slated for a future meeting. 

ARPA allocations for infrastructure improvements were capped at $500,000, meaning Wilmington will receive the highest amount available for this type of project.

Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said the funding is “an investment into the health and well-being of our communities" and will “play a critical role in elevating services and supporting our community's infrastructure needs.”

Will County has received $134.1 million in ARPA funding from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. 

The county allocated funds based on the “pillars” of Health, Infrastructure, Economic Development, Local Government Unmet Needs, and Revenue Replacement. 

Of the totality of the funds, $43 million dollars was made available for county-wide entities to apply for funds to support programs supporting Economic Development, Health, and Infrastructure.

"The money distributed through the Infrastructure pillar will allow many communities within Will County to have quality water and sewer for many years to come," said Will County Board Republican Leader Steve Balich.

The ARPA fund allocations extended to several agencies locally. Included on the list are:

Fire Protection Districts
Four local fire protection districts were awarded funds for payroll reimbursement. Those funds are intended for public sector capacity to restore and bolster government’s ability to deliver critical services for Public Safety, Public Health, and Human Services Staff.

Awards include:

Braidwood Fire Protection District – $76,245

Custer Fire Protection District – $66,232

Wilmington Fire Protection District – $80,229

Elwood Fire Protection District – $70,477

Park Districts
Braidwood Park District was allocated $38,388 for infrastructure upgrades, including a new HVAC system.

Wilmington Park District was awarded $34,152 for ADA infrastructure upgrades, including installation for an accessible bathroom, and an ADA asphalt walkway.

Godley Park District was awarded $25,000 for infrastructure upgrades to include a HVAC work.

The village of Elwood was approved for $25,000 for new construction of a multi-use learning center/children's garden project.

The village of Symerton was approved for $25,000 for facility improvements to include a storage shed, PPE, and UVA lights.

Fossil Ridge Public Library District was awarded $20,000 for systems upgrades, to include remote locker pickup.

Wilmington Public Library District was awarded $20,000 for facility improvements and infrastructure work, including the addition of an outdoor story walk, hand dryers, fountain installation costs. 

Manhattan-Elwood Public Library District was awarded $30,000 for systems upgrades for a new smart locker system.

Infrastructure improvements
Godley Public Water District was awarded $500,000 to replace aging equipment to sustain the public water system’s operations.

The village of Diamond was awarded $71,400 for sewer improvements, to remotely and more effectively monitor and control plant operations by implementing SCADA controls.

The Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 in Joliet was allocated $126,000 to address water in the building, which will help pay for labor, equipment and materials to install a new 6-inch water service line.

Reed Township was awarded $68,542 for infrastructure and technological upgrades, which will include HVAC improvement and an update to the township website.

Wilmington Township was allocated $56,477 for technological upgrades and infrastructure upgrades, which will include computers, office equipment, parking lot grade and drain repair, office expansion and improvement

Wesley Township was approved for $59,399 for stormwater management by way of road ditching.

Health Systems
515 Fitness of Coal City was allocated $100,500 for behavioral health programs, which will be put toward new space, support staff, and behavioral health services support.

The Northern Illinois Food Bank was also allotted $1.5 million for food stabilization programs, to assist in purchasing of food that will be available to all partner agencies including Kuzma Care Cottage in Wilmington and Community Cares Food Pantry in Braidwood.

ShareFest was approved for $827,872 in funds to help maintain its food pantry and cover facility expenses for the annual ShareFest large scale event.

Funds were also awarded to non-profit organizations and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

An online dashboard has been launched to allow the public to view the full listing of allocations and to learn how to access services expanded by ARPA funding. The dashboard is available at www.willcountyillinois.org/dashboard.