GALENA, Ill. — After several years of delays, a new canoe and kayak park in Galena is just weeks away from opening.

The park, located just south of where U.S. 20 crosses the Galena River, includes a dedicated canoe and kayak launch site, along with an adjacent parking lot and green space.

City Administrator Mark Moran said the city looks forward to offering more river access to kayakers and canoers. Although the city already has a public drivable boat ramp where people can launch canoes and kayaks, the new site will be specifically dedicated to nonmotorized watercraft.

“It’s been part of our playbook for a number of years to provide as many outdoor opportunities as we can both in Galena and Jo Daviess County,” he said.

The park also could provide a boost for businesses in the area.

Silas Tepple owns Nuts Outdoors, a Galena business that sells and rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards as well as electric bikes. He said that the new site will benefit his customers and all river enthusiasts.

“People won’t have to contend with the motorboats backing down the ramp with their trailers,” he said. “It’s nice and easy — you can walk right down to the water. Hopefully, more people use it to get out on the river.”

While an opening date has not been established, Moran said the park likely will open in the next two or three weeks. A ribbon-cutting and celebration is tentatively slated for late July or August.

“We’re getting near the end of construction,” Moran said, noting that major components of the project are complete and only minor landscaping details remain.

Plans for the park date back to 2014, when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources awarded the city an $80,000 grant for the project. The Community Development Fund of Galena was set to cover the remaining cost.

But in 2015, financial difficulties at the state level caused the grant to be frozen.

Planning remained on hold until 2018, when the state revived the grant, and the community development fund once again agreed to contribute.

City Council members approved a bid of $127,438 from Galena-based Louie’s Trenching Service in April 2019 and hoped to open the park later that year.

Moran said flooding slowed construction in 2019.

The following year, funding uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic halted progress.

In the two years since the bid was accepted, Moran said that two change orders amending the project have increased the total cost to $139,952.

In addition to the state grant of $80,000, the Community Development Fund of Galena has committed $32,000 and might consider additional funding.

The city will be responsible for any remaining costs.

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