MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — The State of Illinois is giving Machesney Park half a million dollars to get people out of flood zones along the Rock River.

Part of the money is going toward an acquisition program to relocate people living along Shore Drive, and to turn that area into “green space.”

Mayor Steve Johnson says the grant will help make the waterfront safer.

“This allows us to help beautify the park, Machesney Park, and … we want to make sure it ensures the safety and ability [for people] to access and … enjoy the waterfront.” Johnson said Thursday. “They love the boating, they love the ramps, they love what we have out there. When you can expand it and make it a better product, they’re all for it.”

Johnson said the Village has already acquired 161 properties that are prone to flooding, and more are expected to be demolished.

“[The money is] helping people get out of flood prone areas, but you are also developing a park system, parkway program,” Johnson said.

The plan is to create a “park atmosphere” which will include fishing piers, a walking path, benches, and more parking, the Mayor added.

Johnson said he is excited to see the project come to life.

“Now we are getting up to the point where we can actually get that project going, with the boat launch and the park area connected together, which is a win-win for the public,” he said.

Johnson said he expects work to begin in the summer and last two years.