$54.9 million announced for 111 local park and recreation projects across Illinois

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

Nearly $55 million in state grants are being awarded for 111 local park projects throughout Illinois to help communities acquire land and develop recreational opportunities, Gov. JB Pritzker has announced.

It’s the second year that funding was set aside for economically distressed communities, with 32 underserved locations receiving $18.7 million in grants from the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development, or OSLAD, program.

OSLAD is a cost-sharing program between state and local governments that helps communities fund land acquisition and development for parks and outdoor recreation projects.

The renovation of Crispus Attucks Park in Carbondale is included. Work replace the park’s current playground equipment, with the addition of disabled-accessible flooring, swings and playground equipment, as there is no other accessible park in the area that is suitable for children as young as 3 up to teenagers.

Additionally, plans call for installing a zip line and a climbing structure, neither of which are community park features found in southern Illinois. The park district expects the renovation will bring excitement and enjoyment to the neighborhood, as well as a sense of community pride.

Harristown, a Macon County village of about 1,300 residents will receive a $150,000 OSLAD grant to build a park and playground with a pavilion, sitting areas, walking path, a disabled-accessible playground, a half basketball court, and pickleball courts. The village intends to utilize general funds and donations to match the OSLAD grant.

Projects awarded OSLAD grants include:

  • City of Toulon – Renovation of city park, including adding a splash pad; resurfacing the half basketball court and adding an adjustable hoop for use by multiple age groups; updating the full-size basketball court into a multi-use court for basketball, tennis and pickleball; installation of a sign language panel and disabled-accessible playground equipment; and the addition of exercise equipment for all ages.
  • Alsip Park District – Development of the 22.65-acre Freedom Park, featuring the first set of outdoor pickleball courts in the park district and a single-track mountain bike course, a nine-hole disc golf course, a monarch waystation, replacement of the 20-year-old playground, and extension of walking paths to connect to the regional Cal-Sag Trail.
  • Sycamore Park District – Development of a new 2.7-acre community park that establishes diverse recreation amenities and resilient native plantings in the heart of a residential community. Recreational amenities will include a picnic shelter with disabled-accessible picnic table seating and green roof, fitness challenge course, a new playground, a half basketball court, game area, and the new Native Savannah Trail.
  • Village of Ford Heights – Development of an outdoor community recreation area, including expanded playground facilities, three basketball courts, a concession stand, a football/multi-use field with space for spectators, walking path, and lighting to ensure safety.
  • City of Mound City – Improvements to the existing city park, including disabled accessible walking path and connecting sidewalks, a disabled accessible parking area, a new playground structure and ground cover pad, replacement of the basketball court, and additional benches.

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