McHenry Riverwalk project to move forward

Development largely made possible by recently completed $1M donation

The next phase of the McHenry Riverwalk development has been funded.
The next phase of the McHenry Riverwalk development has been funded.

McHenry’s Riverwalk development is poised to move forward after a large donation from the Cunat family.

The Cunats recently presented the McHenry Riverwalk Foundation with $370,000, a final payment on a total $1 million donation pledge, said John Smith, the foundation’s president.

“I think we all in McHenry know the benefits of this project,” he said. “Their entire family has served McHenry through service organizations … and have been constant givers to the city. We should all be very overjoyed by their incredible generosity.”

The last phase of the project left off on the north side of Route 120 several years ago. The next phase involves developing the riverwalk down the route to Weber Park and linking retail areas on Green Street and Riverside Drive.

McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett said he wanted to see the project move forward as soon as possible.

“We have the support from the majority of businesses for easement purposes,” he said. “I want to get started close to the end of this summer. … I don’t want to waste any time.”

The development is meant to bring economic development to the city and is about a third of the way compete.

Riverwalk Foundation officials were excited about the future of the riverwalk when McHenry Downtown Theater opened, because it acts as an “anchor” to the area.

Smith said the foundation would like to see this next phase complete by the end of fall. The foundation will still need to go through a bidding, permitting and construction process.

The project has been years in the making. Complete site plans are available on the city’s website.

“The most prominent natural feature in McHenry is the Fox River,” the city’s Riverwalk page reads. “While the river bisects the town and easily creates a face for the community, public access is currently limited to small number of people aside from that afforded by Weber’s Park and the recently improved Miller Pointe.  The river is also tied to our older downtown areas; areas that have begun to struggle while trying to compete with larger retailers who have the advantage of locating on the edge of town where land is more abundant.”

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