The Hennepin Canal bike path skirts the edges of Geneseo, but connecting to that path can be tricky for residents.

The Hennepin Canal bike path skirts the edges of Geneseo, but connecting to that path can be tricky for residents.

“To use the path, we often hear people have to first transport themselves or their bikes out there,” said Geneseo city administrator Lisa Kotter.

The bike path is located on the north side of the Hennepin Canal, but Geneseo’s city residents live on the south side of the canal.

Thanks to a $116,000 grant, accessing the path is set to become easier.

Last February, city officials submitted a grant application to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The proposal requested funding to build a culvert across the Hennepin Canal.

Using the culvert, walkers and bikers would be able to reach the Hennepin Canal path from Lodge Park in the Country Manor subdivision.

Not only will local residents have an easier access point to the path, but out-of-town visitors using the trail will have an easier way to visit the community.

“They really can’t get to us right now unless they ride on Route 82,” said Kotter.

The Hennepin Canal path is part of both the Grand Illinois Trail and the American Discovery Trail.

By creating a safe way for walkers and bikers to cross the canal, city officials feel they will be able to entice more visitors to spend time shopping, eating and staying in Geneseo.

“It seems like there’s a resource there we should be able to tap into,” said Kotter.

Though the grant application was submitted to the state in early 2016, city officials only recently learned their proposal had been approved for funding.

“It’s a matching grant, so $116,000 will come from the state and the city will provide another $29,000,” said Kotter.

The $145,000 project would include the canal crossing as well as wayfinding signage and bicycle lanes five feet wide on both sides of North and Chicago streets for approximately 1.4 miles.

A new 10-foot wide path would connect Lodge Park and Willow Drive in Country Manor. A user-activated signal will be installed to help stop traffic along Chicago Stret at Ogden Avenue.

Kotter said the city’s $29,000 portion of the project could come from hotel-motel tax dollars. Those funds can only be used for projects geared toward putting “heads in beds” and increasing local tourism.

Portions of the funding also could come from the city’s capital fund.

“We haven’t decided where they funds would come from, but funding this from the hotel-motel tax would certainly be an appropriate use of those dollars,” she explained.

The state’s $116,000 grant is part of the federally funded Recreational Trails Program.

Though the Geneseo project has been officially approved, the city hasn’t yet received the funds.

A letter to the city stated a representative from the state’s grants division would contact Geneseo officials “in the very near future with detailed information and instructions concerning the implementation of your project.”

“I don’t know if this is something we’ll be able to get started this summer or if we’ll have to wait until the summer of 2018,” said Kotter.