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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mixed bag on state park, historic site closings

Users of the Hennepin Canal Trail and the I&M Trail are happy that the two Northern Illinois trails have been spared from budget cuts that would have closed or limited access to the trails starting Monday morning.

Hennepin Canal Trail State Park, Channahon Parkway State Park and Gebhard Woods State Park were saved from closing earlier this month when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich used his amendatory veto power to keep the parks open. The Illinois General Assembly had approved $2.1 million to keep 11 state parks and 12 state historic sites open, but Blagojevich decided to use the money to keep the only three parks listed above plus Kickapoo State Park open.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists was among the groups that pushed to keep Hennepin, Channahon and Gebhard Woods open. The League pointed out that by closing the Hennepin Canal Trail, the state would have been in danger of losing federal transportation money, which was used to build the trail and other state projects.

But as an Illinois history buff of sorts, I'm saddened that several historic sites in Southern Illinois were not spared. Among the sites that will close Monday are the Cahokia Courthouse in St. Clair County, Fort de Chartres, Fort Kaskaskia and the Pierre Menard home in Randolph County and the Vandalia State House in Fayette County.

The first four sites preserve key parts of Illinois' history before it became a state, even as far back as when the French, then the British, governed Illinois.

Kaskaskia was Illinois' first state capital, followed by Vandalia, before the capital moved to Springfield.

I realize the state is in the midst of a budget crisis, but I wish Blagojevich would have had a little more regard for the history of the state in chosing the sites that will be closed.

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Roger 2 comments links to this post 8:37 PM

I'd like to see an investigation as to exactly how much money is saved by closing the state house in Vandalia. I visited there recently and spoke to the attendant. She implied that the cost saved was minimal, as perhaps insurance and certainly heating and cooling and maintenance would yet be required. It seemed to me that there would be very minimal costs saved, the salary of the attendant...it was freezing in there anyway.
I suppose parks and bike paths don't offer much in bribes, a major weakness?
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