The most prominent natural feature in McHenry is the Fox River. The river bisects the town and easily creates a face for the community yet there are only a small number of people that have access to the River aside from that afforded by Weber's Park. In turn, the river is also tied to our older downtown areas; areas that have begun to struggle while trying to compete with Big Box stores that locate themselves on the edge of town where land is abundant. With those facts in mind, five goals governing a potential Riverwalk were established and the design work on the project began. Those goals are as follows:
- To create a new image for McHenry
- To revitalize the downtown areas
- To improve our residents quality of life
- To re-establish McHenry as the Gateway to the Chain-of-Lakes
- To provide the basis for many new development opportunities
The Riverwalk is almost one mile long and runs from the Route 120 Boone Creek Bridge to Weber's Park. The path is to run along the South bank of Boone Creek east to the Riverwalk Place Townhome development. A new pedestrian bridge is to be installed that would connect the South bank of the creek to Riverside Drive. It is here that the path will cross to the North side of the creek and turn the corner to the West side of the Fox River. The path proceeds north under both the Route 120 Bridge and the Pearl Street bridge that span the river ending at Weber's Park with a proposed water feature.
The Riverwalk is broken into three "Zones". The zones reflect the setting and theme for each section.
The Historic Zone is centered in the oldest part of town. The south bank of the historic zone is currently the most heavily wooded natural area along the walk. The obvious highlight of the Historic Zone is the proposed re-use of the old Pearl St. bridge to connect to the municipal parking lot on the north side of the creek. The Terra Cotta Company has agreed to donate a section of the bridge to be restored and included in the project.
The terrain and the natural aspect of the area lend itself well to an element such as water cascading over boulders on the embankment. To enhance the nature of the Historic Zone a large portion of the steel seawall is to be removed and replaced with a more natural boulder and stacked stone edge.
Residential Zone (Phase I)
In the Residential Zone the path will run along the creek past the former Medical Arts building site, the McHenry Villa & the Riverwalk Place Townhomes. In order to accommodate the future Riverwalk, both the McHenry Villa & Lanco Development deeded the shoreline portion of the land along the length of their properties to the city.
A new pedestrian bridge that will span the creek and connect to Riverside Drive will be erected on the townhome site. The bridge will be 10 feet above the water level allowing boats to easily pass underneath to proceed upstream. The low profile of the bridge gives it a very neat and clean appearance and allows the residents of the townhomes to maintain sightlines to the river. The pedestrian bridge is also the connection between the Residential Zone and the Commercial Zone.
There will be a number of elements that distinguish the Riverwalk, such as signage with a particular style, paver paths, and gazebos. However, the one true face that the project has taken on is the Miller's Point area. With three large gazebos and a grand pavilion of brick pavers, Miller's Point will be ideally suited for any number of special events.
The pathway will continue north and pass under the Route 120 Bridge. The area behind Riverside Drive has been redesigned to help attract business for the downtown district. The section will continue to be an area of transformation as business owners will not only have to consider their street frontage, but also the river and Riverwalk frontage.
Finally passing under the bridge at Pearl Street the walk ends (or begins) at Weber's Park where a new restroom facility will be built in the park, a new pathway and new public piers will also be installed. Large stacked stones will be placed along the riverbank providing a clean look and increased accessibility to the River. Plans for Weber's Park also have one of the more exciting interactive features along the Riverwalk. The Park will be highlighted with a zero depth water feature that uses lights and squirts water from the ground. A new park entryway will have a short brick wall that will distinguish the park and prevent children from running into the street.
The Riverwalk will be built in five phases each of which offers a number of unique redevelopment opportunities. These phases are clearly laid out inside of this brochure. Construction on phase one HAS BEGUN and will be completed in 2007. Construction of future phases is tied to the redevelopment in the downtown districts, as the Riverwalk relies on TIF receipts to fund the project. One phase of the Riverwalk that has unlimited potential is the current site of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. The city council has made the commitment to abandon the plant and shift capacity to another plant by 2010. This peninsula offers some of the best views on the river.
The future of McHenry and its downtown has never looked brighter.
Riverwalk Overall Site Plan
A model of the Riverwalk is available for viewing in the lobby of the Municipal Center, 333 S. Green Street. Phase I of the Riverwalk begins at the Green Street bridge with a street crossing and a gazebo on the east side of the street. The brick paver pathway continues east past the site of the Curtis Commercial project and the McHenry Villa to the Riverwalk Place Townhomes. At the townhomes the pathway transitions to a composite wood walkway that cantilevers over the water. The most important feature of Phase I, the new pedestrian bridge, can be found at the townhome project and spans the creek to connect to Riverside Drive. The bridge creates a link between two of the downtown districts that, in the past, may have seemed isolated from one another..
Construction of Phase I of the Riverwalk began in February 2006 with the installation of a seawall to stabilize the stream bank and serve as a foundation for the new natural boulder edge shoreline. Construction on the walk itself began in the summer of 2006. Though the walk has been utilized extensively throughout the construction process, the final details were put in place for our Grand Opening on: September 22, 2007
PHASE I FACTS
- Contract Price: $2,748,245.90
- Designed by: VOA Associates SEC Group, Inc
- General Contractor: Alliance Contractors, Inc.
- Electrical: Carey Electric
- Plumbing: Althoff Industries, Inc.
- Gazebos: Carmichael Construction
- Railings: Mueller Ornamental Iron Works
- Masonary: Jimmy'Z Masonry
- Landscaping Contractor: Landscape Concepts Construction
- Irrigation: Naturescape
WATCH THE RIVERWALK MOVIE
(The movie is currently set up for Windows Media player. It is a large file and may take several minutes to load.)