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Dunlap Acquiring Land From State To Redirect Rock Island Trail

Friends of the Rock Island Trail

The Village of Dunlap is set to acquire a portion of the Rock Island Trail from the state, with plans to improve access and reroute the path.

A bill sponsored by State Sen. Win Stoller, R-Germantown Hills, turns over the roughly six-block stretch to the village for the upgrades. The legislation awaits Gov. JB Pritzker's signature following unanimous General Assembly approval.

“What we had to do is transfer this land from IDNR — the (Illinois) Department of Natural Resources — to the Village of Dunlap, and the village is excited about this,” said Stoller. “They were wanting this because they want to develop the trail through there, and IDNR was happy about this because they didn't want the cost to develop it or maintain it either. So it was a win-win from that perspective.”

Dunlap Mayor Jack Esterdahl said the process to acquire the land has taken about two years.

“We have a portion of the trail down by North Park that used to be the old railroad trail and we wanted that portion to develop it,” said Esterdahl. “Mainly we wanted to get most of the trail traffic coming down 2nd Street through the village because that's our business district — not that it's overcrowded, but there's a lot of stop signs and on certain days there's a lot of traffic with the post office, the bank and a couple of other businesses. So, we thought it was just a safer route if we could get access to the trail and then direct the trail down 1st Street through the village rather than 2nd Street.”

Esterdahl said the plan is to improve access points to the trail and add signs promoting the local businesses that he believes often get overlooked by vehicle traffic on Illinois Rt. 91.

“Most of our businesses are not on Rt. 91, so the majority of the traffic that goes through town isn't really aware of our businesses that we do have,” said Esterdahl. “So, we're looking forward to developing (the trail) and making it more accessible and safer for not only walkers but bike riders and hopefully it will help our business district, too.”

Esterdahl said a timeline for completing the trail upgrades is yet to be determined.

“I would say it's more probably looking at next year into 2022, depending on how things go; I don't know if we're going to be able to get started on it this year,” he said. “We don't have a park district, so we have to budget our park funds and trail funds out of just our regular budget and that takes some time. So, this may be a two-year project and it could be into 2023 before it's totally done.”

Stoller said improving the trail in Dunlap will enhance an important community asset.

“If you're into biking or jogging or running, it gets a lot of use and so it's going to be a great benefit,” he said.

Stoller heralds SALT deduction bill

Win Stoller
Win Stoller

Stoller said he's proud of the bipartisan support he received in passing both the Rock Island Trail land transfer bill and legislation that will help Illinois small business owners save on their federal taxes.

He said that bill will allow about 400,000 pass-through businesses, such as LLC’s and partnerships, to bypass a $10,000 cap on their State And Local Tax (SALT) deduction.

“The beauty of this is there is no cost to the state of Illinois. It's completely revenue-neutral,” said Stoller. “So, it's essentially kind of a no-brainer. It doesn't cost us anything, but allows our small businesses to capture very substantial deduction on the federal return.”

Right now, owners of such businesses report their share of business income on their individual returns, subjecting them to the cap. Stoller said Illinois’ adoption of a method authorized by the Internal Revenue Service will put small business owners on a level field with larger corporations that are not subject to the cap.

“There are literally thousands and thousands of businesses that will benefit by saving literally thousands and tens of thousands of dollars on their federal taxes,” said Stoller, adding he has spoken to Pritzker and expects the governor will sign the bill.

Stoller said the SALT deduction bill demonstrated there is “a lot of good bipartisan work” in state government.

“I filed the bill and the first thing I did was reached across the aisle and approached several Democrats that are kind of experts in this, taxation and revenue, and a presented this opportunity with them. They saw it also as a great opportunity,” he said. “In the end, I had enormous number of both Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate and signing on as co-sponsors.

“I was able to get some of the most liberal senators and some of the most conservative senators all co-sponsoring the same bill, which is something you don't see very often in Springfield.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.