OREGON – Those with an affinity for the Black Hawk statue are invited to offer their ideas for what the area around the well-known landmark will look like.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources landscape architect George Bellovics will lead a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Nash Recreation Center to brainstorm with the community about how to redesign the plaza around the statue.
“Now that the money is lined up and the contracts are signed [to repair the statue itself], we are looking at the area around it,” Bellovics said. “Since the community has been so involved in the process, we wanted to engage them in planning for the plaza.”
Participants will be divided into groups, and each group will come up with a design.
“We’ll take their ideas and incorporate as many as we can into the final design,” Bellovics said. “I think that will be a fitting tribute to the community’s involvement.”
The area involved goes from the stairway, and includes the limestone retaining wall, the statue, and the parking lot.
The limestone wall will remain, and may even be expanded, he said, adding that the plaza also must comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
He is also designing a donor’s plaque to honor everyone who contributed to the statue’s repairs.
Bellovics, who has worked for the IDNR for 29 years, said he developed an appreciation for the statue when he was a youngster. He grew up in Geneseo, and his family stopped to see the tall monument each year on the way to summer vacations in Wisconsin.
“Coming through Oregon and seeing that statue ... is every bit as indelible today as it was then,” he said. “It’s not just Oregon’s statue; it’s everybody’s statue.”
More than a decade of fundraising to repair the 107-year-old concrete statue finally was completed in September when several large local donations put the efforts over the top of the $600,000 goal.
The statue, created by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1910 as a tribute to Native Americans, sits on a high bluff overlooking the Rock River at Lowden State Park near Oregon. Time and weather have significantly damaged the surface of the landmark, which was unveiled in 1911.
Officials from the IDNR and the Illinois Conservation Foundation signed contracts last fall with Quality Restorations Inc., of Wood Dale, the firm that will do the repair work.
QRI wrapped the statue in November to protect it from winter weather. This is the fifth winter it has been under wraps.
The repair work is slated to begin in April and will take about 60 days.
ICF Executive Director Eric Schenck urges people to continue their commitment to the statue even after the repairs are done because maintenance will be ongoing. Donations can be made at www.ilcf.org or sent to Illinois Conservation Foundation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702.