The Fox Valley Park District has been awarded a $400,000 grant by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the redevelopment of Copley I Park near downtown Aurora.
The Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant program is a statewide funding program that enables communities to improve outdoor recreation areas and increase open space. Copley I Park is one of 46 park development projects awarded a combined total of $16.5 million statewide. The OSLAD program is funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax that is part of every property sale in Illinois.
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"Parks and outdoor recreational activities help make Illinois a great place to live and work," Gov. Pat Quinn said. "These projects will create jobs, allow more families to get active outdoors and promote healthy lifestyles."
Located along South Lake Street and Ridgeway Avenue, Copley I Park is a popular gathering place and longtime favorite venue for baseball and softball games.
"Given the fact that we've kept the park district's tax rate flat for the last three years, these types of grants provide needed funding to carry out these important community projects," Executive Director Nancy McCaul said. "We are very appreciative of the assistance and excited to complete the improvements at Copley I Park."
The master plan for the $897,000 revitalization is highlighted by a new playground with an adult fitness area adjacent; new shelter; new restrooms; ball field improvements that include new lights, fencing and drainage; and a renovated basketball half-court.
The nearby Gilman Trail that carries pedestrian and bicycle traffic to and from the park will feature new signage including GPS/QR code references. All paths within Copley I Park will be made accessible and complemented by new landscaping along with a resealed and re-striped parking lot.
"The revitalization of Copley I Park will bring necessary improvements to one of the most heavily used parks in the district," said Jeff Palmquist, director of planning, development and grants. "We're adding a new level of upgrades to an old favorite so this park can continue to be enjoyed by many."
It's the ninth OSLAD grant Fox Valley has received since 2007. Past grant projects include Greene Field Park, Spring Lake Park, Simmons Park, Waubonsie Lake Park, Waubonsie Creek Park, Lippold Park Natural Area, South River Street Park and Jericho Lake Park.
"Local park districts, forest preserve districts and outdoor recreation agencies are our partners in offering families and children places to help make sure we achieve our goal of leaving no child inside in Illinois," IDNR Director Marc Miller said.