WBK Engineering LLC Awarded Feasibility Study for St. Charles, IL Fox River Dam Project
WBK Engineering, LLC has been awarded a contract by the City of St. Charles, Illinois to study the feasibility of modifications to the Fox River dam in the heart of its downtown business district. This contract builds on WBK’s prior participation and success in developing the Fox River Corridor Master Plan. That plan, completed in 2015, presented a broad vision for enhancement of the Fox River as a natural and an economic resource with an overarching goal to transform downtown St. Charles. The Master Plan lays out a strategy to improve access and increase activity in and around the beautiful Fox River, including trail enhancements, leveraging redevelopment opportunities, and modifying the Fox River dam to allow a more active use of the river by boaters, fishermen and spectators.
The WBK Engineering contract is the first step in a process intended to transform the community and preserve the natural beauty and ecosystem of the Fox River. WBK will study the feasibility of modifying the dam to maintain the existing pool adjacent to Pottawatomie Park while at the same time connecting the river across the elevation change caused by the dam. John Wills, President, said this contract intersects two important aspects of the WBK business model. “We are proud to have been awarded this project. St. Charles is our home-we see the Fox River every day in our travels, and we understand what a tremendous resource this is to our community,” said Wills. “Coupled with the fact that we are now part of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, this project has even deeper meaning.”
Greg Chismark, PE, is WBK Engineering’s Municipal Practice Principal and will lead the project. “The initial concepts include creating a series of small drops across a reach of the Fox River that will provide an opportunity for an active park-like setting.” Chismark said. “The Master Plan even includes a children’s play area centered on river ecology. This will truly complement the downtown business district and current park facilities.”
It should be noted that the statue “Ekwabet” stands at the center of this opportunity and overlooks the Fox River. In honor of the rich history of the Potawatomi people, a statue was erected in Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles in 1915. Over the years the statue fell into disrepair and a new statue dedicated to the memory of the Potawatomi was sculpted and erected. The statue stands looking westward over the Fox River and was dedicated in 1988. Members of four bands of Potawatomi including the Pokagon Band attended. It was at this time that the statue received its name Ēkwabet, meaning "watching over."
Troy Clay, CEO of Mno-Bmadsen, noted the Band’s pride in this project. “As one of our great Family of Companies, we are very proud that WBK Engineering is participating in this project,” Clay said. “The Fox River played an important part in the lives of our ancestors living in the area, and it continues to enhance quality of life in St. Charles. It’s truly an honor.”