Darlene’s Story

Community Working Together To Saves Lives:

Residents vow to raise private funds for Yorkville bike path

By Steve Lord slord@stmedianetwork.com December 28, 2011 5:20PM

YORKVILLE — When Darlene McCue’s husband, Dan, died of cancer in 2005, her neighbor across the street, Lynn Dubajic, was there to comfort her.

Dubajic, Yorkville Economic Development Corp. director, helped Darlene through the tough times, and Darlene was there just three years later when Lynn’s husband died — also from cancer.

Then more tragedy struck in 2009, when Darlene McCue was killed while riding her bike along Kennedy Road near her home with her daughter. At the time, people said it was a wake-up call for Yorkville to do something about safety for the people who biked or walked along Kennedy Road. But the road remains a two-lane, rural highway with only ditches on either side, despite the development that has grown up around it.

Now Dubajic wants to do something to get a trail along the road that not only will add to the city’s transportation mix and provide safety to those who use the highway, but will remember her friend.

“For me, this is personal,” Dubajic said recently. “She leaned on me, I leaned on her.”

This week, Dubajic announced that a non-profit organization is being formed called Push for the Path, with herself and John Ammons, owner of Wheatland Title, one of Yorkville’s biggest employers, and Maureen Sharp, a local Realtor, as the officers.

The sole reason for the organization will be to raise money to pay the local match of a $1.4 million grant the Illinois Department of Transportation already has awarded to the city. A City Council committee previously has voted not to accept the grant on the basis that the city cannot afford the local match, and does not want to commit to it.

After some discussion this week, aldermen decided to send consideration of turning down the grant back to the Public Works Committee. The city has until the end of January to notify IDOT officially if it will take, or turn down, the grant.

Dubajic is hoping the city will take the grant. At that point, she said Push for the Path will take on the responsibility of raising about $220,000 during the next six years to meet the city’s obligation to the state.

She told aldermen this week the organization would pledge to raise that amount.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to commit to you and fulfill our promise to raise the money,” she said. “We ask you to take a look at this.”

The total cost of the bike trail project is about $1.7 million, and with the state’s main grant, it would leave the city with a local match of about $357,000. The city can get a second grant to pay some of that, leaving about $220,000 to cover with payments each year until fiscal year 2017-18.

Most of those payments range from $7,000 to $23,000 a year, and Dubajic said most of that can be taken care of by a golf outing that will benefit Push for the Path. That outing has been organized by Bill McCue, Dan’s brother, each year since his brother died. Dubajic said the money raised has gone to various scholarships in the past, but that Bill has rededicated the outing to benefit the path organization.

The biggest individual payment comes in the 2016-17 fiscal year, of about $147,000. Dubajic said the organization is planning other fund-raisers, as well as approaching local businesses for help for the bigger payment. One of those businesses is the Wrigley Company, another of the city’s large employers, which she said has a grant that is for what Push for the Path is seeking. She said she also will approach Nicor, where Darlene McCue worked for years.

 When the bike path becomes a reality, local business man Mark O’Malley has pledged to make ornamental iron arches, which will serve as gateways to the path as a dedication to Darlene McCue.

O’Malley Welding & Fabricating Service, Inc.

1209 Badger Street

Yorkville, IL  60560

www.omalleywelding.comDarlene McCue Trail