Yesterday I drove a friend to Belvidere for medical treatment. I had about an hour to wait, so I went exploring in the city I represented in the Illinois House of Representatives for eight years in the 1970’s. Since I knew that the Amtrak route selected by Governor Pat Quinn when through the town, I wondered where the station would be.
I stopped on Business Route 20 (State Street) and took the picture above. I wondered if the little white building across the tracks might turn into a train station.
The train would be coming in from the east. The empty spaces you see on the left and right on the other side of the street to the east are parking lots. I drove down to see if Pat Mattison, the publisher of the Belvidere Daily Republican I knew, who was running Belrock Printing after he sold the paper, was still in there.
He wasn’t. His old office and plant was now the new Belvidere City Hall. I figured someone inside would know where the new train station would be located. I hit the jackpot.
Alderman Andrew Racz was walking in the building as the woman at the City Clerk’s office was telling me that a display was inside the locked door. He recognized me and, while I couldn’t pull his name out of my ancient memory vault, I did remember his face.
He ushered me into to see the mayor, Frederic Brereton, who was outside in his reception area. I thanked him for his council’s having endorsed an Amtrak station in McHenry County before the McHenry County Board did. He told me there was a good working partnership.
Brereton showed me the display outside his office, telling me the train station was going to be across the street from City Hall.
“Go out the front door, stand in the middle of the street and look to your left. That’s where the station is going to be.” He told me that State Senator Brad Burzynski had gotten some state aid and that by eliminating a grad crossing by putting the station across Whitney Boulevard, he hoped that Amtrak might kick in some money as well, since the fewer grade crossing the better, as far as Amtrak was concerned.
So, I went outside, stood in the middle of the street and took the photo you see above. What will the station look like?
Here’s another drawing I found outside the Mayor’s office.