Allerton Park has seen the future, and it does not include funding from the State of Illinois.
Established in 1946, Allerton Park, just outside of Monticello, is home to a historic manor house, nature trails, a variety of formal gardens and a collection of art from around the world. But this combination of history, art and nature come at a cost—one that the State of Illinois can no longer support.
"We are part of the University of Illinois," said Derek Peterson, Allerton Park director. "So we've always relied upon state dollars. Recently, the state has let us know that our state dollars will be going away. Lucky for us, the part of our budget that came from the state has never been large."
To make up for the loss of state funding, Peterson said the park will focus on raising more revenue through planned events, such as weddings and conferences.
"We'll also need to rely on more donations from private citizens," Peterson said.
The park recently received a $1 million gift from Dave and Debbie Rathje of Champaign. That donation will help fund a new grand entry to the mansion and conference center, which is included in the new master plan which puts into focus the future of the park and its most pressing needs. Private funding will also support the addition of a new cafe, which will keep park patrons on the property for meals, rather than forcing them to head into Monticello for a bite to eat.
The park also boasts a variety of nature trails, which wind over 14 miles through the park. The master plan ensure the trails will be fully accessible and improves the amenities, including a composting toilet. Phase two of the master plan will be implemented this coming summer.
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