Make a call today - it will take you less than one minute - to your state senator and ask that they support SB1566. It could save many programs at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, including the defunct Illinois Bike Path Program.
Illinois’ fight over pension legislation rages on today in Springfield. The cuts are deep.
Trying to gain traction is SB1566, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ funding legislation. Here’s the fact sheet, and the full text. Last night, IDNR director Marc Miller posted a video, which summarizes what’s at stake.
The bill will boost funding for the bike path program by 33%, meaning an estimated $1.4 million more for the program, which historically - at least until 2008 - awarded approximately $3 million annually to park districts and communities for trail development.
Since the early 1990s, the Illinois Bike Path program has been ably directed by Dick Westfall, section manager for the IDNR’s Trails and Greenways program. Dick convened the first Conservation Congress, designed the state’s first trails plan, shepherded the development of signature projects such as the Grand Illinois Trail, and helped four governors set the priorities for federal trail grants.
He’s retiring today, after 30+ years of service. The pension legislation will impose a major penalty on his retirement should he stay. Dick says it is a rushed decision that he didn’t want to make. While the final pension bill may well bolster Illinois’ fragile budget, it’s costing Illinois trails a brilliant and committed manager and leader.
In light of Dick’s departure, I guess you could call your senator to support the IDNR funding legislation out of irony. I feel a little of that. But overwhelmingly, I’m calling out of respect for Dick Westfall and his enormous contribution to trails and quality of life in our state.
Make a call today.