KANKAKEE – The Kankakee Valley Park District Board of Directors has unanimously approved the agreement between the Kankakee Riverfront Society Inc., the City of Kankakee and the KVPD to provide support to Kankakee Streams, the proposed recreational development of a 4 mile stretch of Kankakee waterfront property.
At Monday’s park board meeting, more than 15 people participated in the public comment portion of the meeting on behalf of the agreement, including Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis; City Council members Dave Crawford, Carmen Lewis and Mike O’Brien; and Riverfront Society President Staci Wilken and Vice President Matt McBurnie.
The park district will provide one-third of the funds needed to hire an executive director to move the project forward along the Kankakee River. The park district’s share will be $35,000 of the executive director’s $105,000 annual compensation.
“That’s what we think we have to offer as a salary,” said Dayna Heitz, KVPD’s general manager.
Curtis said the $105,000 figure was the maximum, meaning an offer would be made based on the person’s experience.
The KRS approved its part of the deal on February 25.
The collaborative effort is a three-year agreement to provide support to The Currents of Kankakee and outlines the details through which each party will contribute organizational responsibilities, including programming, maintenance and funding of the 4-mile stretch of the edge of the Kankakee River in the city. Nonprofit KRS is spearheading The Currents of Kankakee for the transformation of Kankakee’s downtown waterfront.
“Our council has not only shown the community how much they support waterfront development, but also their commitment to growing the partnership with KRS and the Town of Kankakee,” Heitz said. “I’m proud to invest in our greatest resource knowing it will be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Additionally, the agreement outlines each’s commitment to fund and hire a full-time executive director whose primary focus will be to lead the fundraising effort to implement Riverfront’s master plan and achieve objectives of the agreement. The Executive Director will be an employee of the Kankakee Riverfront Society and will report to its Board of Directors.
Each entity agrees to fund one-third of the full-time employee’s salary and benefits, up to $35,000 per year per entity, for the duration of the agreement.
The city and KVPD each have one appointee on the board, 6th District Alderman Mike Cobbs and KVPD Chairman Ray Eads, respectively.
Wilken said she was pleased with the developments announced on Monday.
“The work needed to make real progress starts with this partnership,” she said. “Our [KRS] The board approved the deal ahead of Monday night’s meeting and I expect we could discuss the hiring process as early as next Tuesday.
The Kankakee City Council is expected to vote on the deal and its share of the executive director’s compensation at its 7 p.m. meeting on Monday. The city has already committed $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the Kankakee Riverfront Society at its Jan. 18 meeting.