Not what the Kimball Trust ordered in Belleville

May 5, 2013 

Edgar Kimball's request was pretty simple and clearly spelled out in his trust agreement. It reads:

"The charitable trust shall be used to establish a public park or plaza within the city of Belleville. ... This open space or plaza shall be two acres or more in size to be known as Kimball Plaza... No building shall be erected in the plaza except for a minor service building, statuary units and/or fountains."

But at the new Belleville park, the majority of the plaza is a parking lot, gazebo and restrooms. The gazebo and restrooms were allowed because of legal manipulation. This project was divided into two indistinguishable phases. In tphase one, the trust money was used to pay for the parking lot, walking trails and playground. The restrooms and gazebo were designated as part of phase two, being paid for with taxpayer (TIF) money.

At a City Council meeting, I commented that I didn't think a parking lot was Kimball's intention of open space. Mayor Mark Eckert told me that we'd have to agree to disagree on the definition of open space.

It is my hope that this will not discourage other philanthropists from investing in Belleville, but they should be forewarned to be very specific in their requests.

Michael Hagberg


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