Joliet hopes to get a $250,000 state grant for restoration at the Old Joliet Prison, a city official said Monday.
The city in turn woud need to come up with $250,000 of local money for the matching grant from the Illinois Office of Tourism, Economic Development Director Steve Jones told the City Council Prison Committee.
Jones said the grant is not a sure thing yet. But the city council will be asked to approve the local share of the spending at its April 16 meeting in anticipation of the grant coming through.
“If we get this grant, we have been told that we have to spend $125,000 by June,” Jones said. “The next $125,000 can be spent over the next year.”
The city had applied several months ago for a $300,000 matching grant from the State Tourism Attraction Program, Jones said. He heard Monday from the state about the possibility of getting a $250,000 grant.
Plans for the money include:
• Creation of a visitors’ center in a building just off the main parking lot for the prison;
• Updating interpretive signs placed around the parking lot several years ago to tell the story of the old Joliet Correctional Center, as well as installation of new signs inside the prison to provide information to visitors;
• Installation of lighting in sections of the prison.
Jones said the city has about $100,000 from events already staged at the prison and set aside for restoration. Future revenue from tours at the prison could be used to pay back the city for the remaining $150,000 of the local match, he said.
Meanwhile, big plans are being made for a premier disc golf course in the undeveloped land on the east side of Collins Street that is part of the prison property.
Mark Grabavoy, who organized a disc golf tournament inside the prison walls last year, told the committee that he has already designed a course that he believes could attract some 20,000 people a year for tournaments and outings.
Grabavoy said the course would include 18 holes and cover 68 acres.