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Daily Journal
     February 3, 2020      #57-34 KDJ
 

'It's our time:' Midland's Snavely named chairman

By Lee Provost
lprovost@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — When plans were first announced about three years ago regarding the Kankakee riverfront development, Scott Snavely could hardly contain his excitement.

The Midland States Bank executive and Bourbonnais resident has been helping with the project development ever since the first meeting was held to plan the development.

Now that the master plan has largely been put in place and a clear vision is rounding into shape for the redevelopment plan along the 4-mile stretch of river, Snavely will have an even greater role.

Snavely recently was named chairman of the Kankakee Riverfront Society Inc. The organization recently was incorporated by the state as an Illinois nonprofit corporation and is walking through the legal steps to become a 501(c)(3), which would mean federal non-profit status. It is laying the groundwork for its plans to promote and gain private contributions to help fund riverfront development within the plan.

Gaining 501 status could take six months, a society member said.

Leaders of the project have stated as much as $30 million of public and private money could be invested as a result of this project within the next decade.

The development plan includes extensive walking and biking areas. There are playgrounds and many areas designated for small-scale retail, as well as dining and entertainment option capitalizing on Kankakee River scenery.

The city already has purchased several properties along the riverfront and many of the structure on those properties have been removed. The city council recently purchased three additional properties.

Only months ago, the Kankakee City Council approved the creation of Tax Increment Financing district to aid project development in the area.

DEVELOPMENT BEGINS AT SCHUYLER

The riverfront plan — which stretches from the South Schuyler Avenue bridge at East River Street and follows the river to the Riverside Medical Center campus — is being eyed as a regional project to transform the location into a regional destination.

While Snavely will serve as chairman of the organization, some other well-known names will serve as board officers. Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong will be vice chairwoman; Dayna Heitz, Kankakee Valley Park District executive director, will be treasurer; and Dave Baron, a Kankakee attorney, will be secretary.

Other board members are Riverside Healthcare’s Matt McBurnie, downtown business owner Terrance Hooper, Amita Health St. Mary’s Hospital’s director of community development director Kathy Peterson, Heritage Development & Construction’s Chief Operating Officer Scott Franco, Bear Construction Co.’s executive Bill Ziemik, and Kankakee City Council members Carmen Lewis and Fred Tetter.

There is an open seat on the board for a Kankakee Park District appointment.

REGIONAL ATTRACTION

Snavely said fundraising has yet to begin as details have not yet come forward as to what is needed for the first phase of construction.

He said a key point for the community to understand is that while the project is in Kankakee, this development reaches far past the city.

“Without question this is countywide. Everyone will benefit from this project. This will be one of the larger draws from throughout the region,” he noted.

Snavely is not a stranger to aiding Kankakee County. The 1979 Kankakee Eastridge High School grad and University of Illinois graduate has served on many organizations, including the Riverside Healthcare Foundation, Kankakee Drug Court Inc. and Main Street Momence.

He described those involved with the riverfront project as having a “can-do” attitude.

“This will work,” he said. “It’s certainly not our plan to have this [plan] sit on a tabletop somewhere. This will be a wonderful development for the entire region.”

But it will take time.

Richard Hitchcock, lead architect for the project, said Snavely and the riverfront society will play a key role in bringing this project forward.

“At the end of the day, they will be crucial to helping fund this as it goes online,” he said. Asked what type of fundraising goal the society will have, Hitchcock would expect private funding to cover 20 percent of costs.

How they will accomplish it, he said, will be up to them. “They will chart their own course,” he said.

Snavely said while construction crews have not arrived on site as yet, there has been much behind-the-scenes work taking place to move the concept to a plan. The first phase of could be six months or so from actually taking place.

The first portion of the project will be in the area of River Street between South Schuyler and South Washington avenues.

“We want to do it right and that takes some time,” he said.

Snavely, who works in Midland’s downtown Kankakee office, said he cannot wait to take lunchtime walks along the riverwalk.

“I think everyone is looking forward to great development along the riverfront,” Snavely said. “This area is a vital asset for Kankakee and the region. It’s our time to make this happen.”

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Lee Provost