Calumet City awarded $1.4 Million to Build Riverwalk


CALUMET CITY, IL (August 19, 2020) – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced a $1.4 million grant award to the City of Calumet City to build a canoe launch and river walk at Torrence and Ring Road across from River Oaks Mall.

“Investments aimed toward building modern infrastructure and fostering stronger and better-connected communities are at the center of our historic $45 billion capital plan,” said Governor Pritzker.

The “Blues Water Run Canoe and Kayak Launch” promises to be regional draw, featuring a river walk, band shell, shared bike and pedestrian trail, Frisbee Golf area and both large- and small- dog parks. The river walk envisions a future connection from the Mall underneath Torrence to access the 15 acre development site.

“On behalf of Calumet City residents and the entire Southland Region that will enjoy “Blues Water Run Canoe and Kayak Launch” for generations to come, I applaud the efforts of Governor Pritzker and DCEO in providing a Fast Track grant,” said Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush. “It is a sign of progress and greater things to come in the face of the challenges we’ve endured this past year. Calumet City stands with the State in its commitment to rebuild our economy by putting people to work and investing in infrastructure improvements.”

The $1.4 million award is part of the $39.5 million in new grants awarded for 27 capital development projects to support continued economic development across the state as part of the Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Capital program.

“While COVID-19 continues to present extraordinary economic challenges – our planned infrastructure projects should not have to wait,” Governor Pritzker explained. “From small communities downstate to those experiencing decades of underinvestment – these capital investments will provide an economic boost that will create jobs and spark additional community investment for years to come.”

Acting DCEO Director Michael Negron added, “With the Governor’s leadership on Rebuild Illinois, our state continues to advance critical infrastructure projects today that will bring growth and opportunity to Illinois communities for years to come.”

Mayor Michelle credited the successful grant award, selected competitively among municipalities across the State, in part to the work of the City’s Economic Development/Grant Writing team which operates under the tutelage of Director Valencia Williams.

Two years ago the Mayor directed City staff to research and develop a plan incorporating the Little Calumet River into her vision for the City’s future economic and social development.  The City has since adopted river use policies, built partnerships with multiple agencies and planned for the build out of the area surrounding River Oaks Mall.

The planning and development strategies have been assisted by a college accredited internship program developed by the City in partnership with Purdue University and University of Illinois-Chicago.  Director Williams, a college professor, continues to administrate the program to provide opportunities to students who carry new ideas and energy and gain valuable instruction and experience working in local government.

One of the crucial partnerships has been with the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association.

“We are thrilled Calumet City has been awarded a Fast Track grant,” said Leslie Phemister, Transportation Planner for the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. “Calumet City has always been a destination in the South Suburbs and this state-of-the-art facility will give the South Suburbs more recreational opportunities to be together while apart. We are grateful to Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for providing the funding for a public infrastructure improvement project that will have years of impact on many Illinois families.”

The timeline for the build out of the $2.3 million project is to seek bids in October and start construction in spring.

“Blues Water Run promises excitement and opportunity for Calumet City residents to gather with family and friends, enjoy nature and outdoor activities right within their community.  It will be a beacon to attract even more visitors and shoppers to our 159th Street Corridor and River Oaks Mall,” the Mayor added.