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Rock Falls looks to begin canal lease talks

ROCK FALLS – City Administrator Robbin Blackert will seek approval at tonight’s City Council meeting to begin negotiations on the terms of a lease agreement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to bring a part of the Hennepin Canal into the city limits.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers.

The city wants to annex 2.2 miles of the canal that extends through the city, from the Arduini boat ramp to the state Route 40 bridge outside the city.

If an annexation agreement is reached, it would be drawn up as an ordinance, subject to approval by the council.

Through annexation, the city would gain more control over the area, making it easier to do upgrades and opening the door to grant opportunities. The resource-depleted IDNR would gain manpower from the city and volunteers to help maintain the area.

“We already have several other similar lease agreements along that route, and those leases would likely be rolled in with the others,” Mayor Bill Wescott said.

A lease agreement would delineate the shared maintenance duties between the city and IDNR, said Dave Hahne, superintendent of Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park.

“The simple things would be under their jurisdiction,” Hahne said. “Things like mowing, picking up trash. We would retain the infrastructure duties, like trees, banks and levees.”

The Hennepin Canal-Trails Committee met for the first time Thursday. The new panel has been looking at results of a public survey taken on the proposed annexation, and trying to pin down how much it would cost the city.

A pending litigation matter will be discussed in executive session.

Next meeting

The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 tonight, at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. 

The agendas will be posted at and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

The City Council meeting also can be viewed live on Channel 5.

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