Renewed Push For Ronald Reagan Statue in Dixon's Lowell Park - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Renewed Push For Ronald Reagan Statue in Dixon's Lowell Park

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Dixon, Illinois, is proud of its presidential connection. As the hometown of former US President Ronald Reagan, citizens of Dixon have worked hard to memorialize the life and times of its most famous native son.

Now, there is a renewed push underway for another Ronald Reagan statue to go up in the city.

It's something they've been talking about for years - putting up a statue of Ronald Reagan in Lowell Park.

It would be a tribute to his days working as lifeguard along the river there. From 1926 to 1932, he is said to have saved 77 lives.

"You know, Lowell Park and his life guarding - it played such an important role in the development of his character," Dixon Mayor Jim Burke explained.

The goal now is to reconstruct the beach where the 40th president of the United States spent so much of his youth, and to erect a seven foot tall bronze statue of Ronald Reagan as a young man, overlooking that beach and the water.

This would be the second Ronald Reagan statue in Dixon. The other one is on the waterfront downtown.

"Well, people like statues. and we are not going to get over statued with Ronald Reagan here in Dixon," Burke said.

City leaders pushing for the project are hoping to put the new statue up near the concession stand, to protect it from flooding and ice jams.

At this point, no specific designs have been presented, but a studio has been chosen. The Chicago-area based Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany also did the famous statue of Michael Jordan in front of the United Center in Chicago and the statue of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, among other works.

The estimated price tag for the proposed Ronald Reagan statue is about $120,000.

It will be paid for through private and corporate donations. None of the funding is coming from city tax dollars.

In fact, Mayor Burke says the statue should actually help generate money for the city.

"I want to see people get excited about it, and I want to see people come to Dixon, more people come to Dixon," he said. "You know, tourism is economic development. There is no question about it. And, I think this is going to be a big draw.

Most people we talked to in Dixon agreed:

"I think it is a great idea - draws in a lot of people to see the statue. Just like the one in downtown Dixon, it will draw a lot of people into the area," Joseph McGraw said.

"It is not a bad idea," William Obanion told us, while sitting at the base of the Ronald Reagan statue on Dixon's waterfront.

"I think it would be great. He certainly is a legacy and something that Dixonites are very proud of," said Dixon resident Rachel Cocar.

"But I also feel like we are in a difficult time financially and there are a lot of other places where we could use those gifts and donations," she added.

Still, Mayor Burke and other city leaders believe the need is there for a new statue in Lowell Park, and they want to push forward with the plans.

Burke says he's going to ask Dixon Tourism to spearhead the project and the fund raising efforts.

He says he's hopeful that they can raise all the money they need by the end of this year, to be able to unveil the statue in Lowell Park sometime in 2014.

Construction could take up to a year.

Anyone who wants to donate money, or to learn more about the project, is encouraged to call Dixon City Hall: (815) 288-1485.

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