LYNWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — The State of Illinois is planning a $154,000 bike path alongside a road construction project in the south suburbs – and the state is threatening to take over some private land to do it.
As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, some in Lynwood feel the state should hit the brakes.
“They were out here this morning sticking flags in here,” said Roger Sons as he stood on his property. “I’m not very happy.”
But Sons admits he might be facing a losing battle. He said the State of Illinois wants his first 12 feet of his lawn.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is now asking a judge for eminent domain, because the state has been unable to acquire this parcel by negotiation.
“When it’s you and the State of Illinois and you got all these guys threatening you,” Sons said, shrugging.
Sons said he tried to negotiate and was offered $2,000. He didn’t take it, and he said he can’t afford a lawyer to help him get a better deal.
“They need to sit down with me and actually negotiate,” Sons said.
Those 12 feet are slated to become a bike path, or a multi-use path as the state calls it.
It is just one part of a larger project to expand Glenwood Dyer Road.
Sons agrees road work is needed, but not the bike path.
People working in the area said they rarely see anyone walking or biking there. The road project is about 0.8 mile long, through a light industrial area – not exactly prime biking territory.
“Money not well spent,” said Angie Golom.
“I just don’t see any reason for a bike lane – even a sidewalk,” said Joe Kreykes.
Kreykes and Golom own commercial properties across the street from the proposed bike path. They are more concerned about other aspects of the project, including whether a new drainage system could cause water to pool up near their land.
Like Sons, they have struggled to get answers from IDOT.
“Why aren’t they considering the owners of the businesses that have been here all these years?” Golom said. “Do I have any recourse?”
It’s a question Sons is asking too.
“They won’t tell us,” Sons said.
An IDOT representative said they held a public meeting in 2016 during the planning phase and there was no strong opposition. But Sons said he did raise his concerns even back then.
But Sons said he did raise his concerns even back then.
“Definitely, I’m being bullied,” Sons said.
The area could soon have another change in landscape. It’s one spot still in the running for a casino in the south suburbs.
“I’m assuming that land within walking distance of a major casino is going go up in value,” Sons said.
Sons said he wonders if that’s why IDOT is pushing to get his land now. Either way, he’s not ready to cash in on the $2,000 he has been offered.
IDOT would not comment on whether the potential casino is factoring into their plans at all.
CBS 2 reached out to the village with some questions, but they haven’t gotten back to us.
The village is contributing $35,000 to the path, and they have agreed to maintain it once it is built.