By Bob Balgemann


Second of 2 Parts

MACHESNEY PARK – There’s one thing about most jobs: You never know what tomorrow will bring.

There were plenty of peaks and valleys during the first two years of Machesney Park Mayor Jerry Bolin’s initial term in office. He expected that, saying in retrospect, “There’s always the valley before the peak. You have to wade your way through it.”

But he was quick to add: “I think that at the end of the day we’re standing on the peak.”

Looking back, he said his first two years were busy and progressive. There’s no reason to believe the remaining 24 months will be any different.

Road construction is a heavyweight on the village’s agenda.

Machesney Park borrowed $3.5 million last year to accelerate its already busy road improvements program. While interest will be paid on the loan, getting a jump on anticipated cost increases due to an improving economy should put the village on the plus side.

That aggressive approach has led some road projects to be two years ahead of schedule, Mayor Bolin said. “It’s a matter of our controlling a situation rather than it controlling us,” he said.

Construction of the Alpine Road multi-use path is a big in that it will (1) enhance the safety of Harlem High School students who walk to and from classes and (2) join existing walkways to provide leisure-time walking or riding access from the Rock River to Rock Cut State Park.

This project became larger in scope when the village received a $660,000 state grant. The pathway now will extend from Lowe’s to Juniper Lane near Schnuck’s grocery.

Melbourne improvement

Another major project is at Melbourne Avenue and North Second Street (Illinois 251). That work is under way and will include a traffic light and turn lanes.

In addition, there will be new roads between 251 and Victory Lane, starting at Pershing and proceeding south to Pershing Terrace.

Yet another big improvement is to the boat ramp at the river, which also has begun. This improvement will include a new ramp and pier, benches, canoe launch, gazebo, parking area, lighting and landscaping.

This is a $398,413.85 project that was helped by a $200,000 grant the village received from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The ramp is in the area of 7926 Shore Drive.

“Many new businesses will be joining the Machesney Park family,” the mayor said. “Others will be expanding at their current locations.”

Progress sometimes can be just plain fun. When he took office, one of the mayor’s goals was to have at least one annual festival in the village for families to enjoy.

That happened and this summer, from 1 to 10 p.m. July 11, the second Machesney Park Family Festival will be held at several locations in front of Machesney Towne Center, formerly the Machesney Park Mall, off North Second Street.

Musical groups, food, children’s activities, a talent show and small carnival will be part of the day, with fireworks bringing it to a close.

Looking ahead, Mayor Bolin said the city of Rockford is not the only one that’s working hard to transform. “Machesney Park started transformation when I was sworn in as village president/mayor May 6, 2013.

He asked residents to look around at the transformation that has happened here in just 24 months.

“I want our village and schools to have every opportunity to reach their fullest potential, making tomorrow better than today,” he said.

“I will keep our village moving forward by being focused on and achieving goals. As long as I’m village president/mayor, our mode will be progressive, with improvements that enhance our quality of life, values, security, prosperity and growth.

“We’re off to a good start. I want to be in a position where the village is on routine maintenance.”

Machesney Park Mayor I

Bob Balgemann photos

Heavy equipment stands ready to continue work on the new boat ramp and adjacent park along Shore Drive in Machesney Park.

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