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City to test waters with survey about canal

Feedback on usage sought from people in both Twin Cities

ROCK FALLS – The city soon will ask the community for its input to help determine its direction regarding the Hennepin Canal.

Members of the Hennepin Canal committee are working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to study the benefits and feasibility of annexing, then leasing, the 2.2-mile stretch of the Hennepin Feeder Canal into the city.

The city has contacted Western Illinois University for its help in creating a survey to gauge how Rock Falls and Sterling residents feel about annexing a portion of the canal into Rock Falls, Alderman Jim Schuneman said.

The idea behind creating a survey is to “see what the community’s expectations are in regard to the canal,” he said.

“What does the community want out of it?” Schuneman asked. “That’s going to determine what kind of a budget we need. If the community wants certain things, we’ll have to see what those things cost, for fishing piers, viewing decks.”

The university will come up with a list of questions. Schuneman said the survey also will go to Sterling residents, as many use the canal frequently.

The Rock Falls Tourism Department donated $600 to pay for the work being done by WIU, Schuneman said.

At a meeting of the Rock Falls Recreational Trail committee Thursday, George Bellovics of the IDNR said it is important to get as much input from the general public as possible.

He said the survey likely will ask residents what kind of environment they would like to be in, what issues are most in need of improvement, and what level of city involvement in the canal is desired.

Survey results will be compiled by the city of Rock Falls.

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