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updated: 6/16/2014 5:44 PM

Itasca nature center to build animal exhibits with $335,000 grant

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  • Itasca Park District has received a $335,000 state grant to help pay for exhibits and building improvements at Springbrook Nature Center.

    Itasca Park District has received a $335,000 state grant to help pay for exhibits and building improvements at Springbrook Nature Center.
    Courtesy Itasca Park District


Springbrook Nature Center in Itasca will be getting some new exhibits and building improvements thanks to a $335,000 grant from the state.

Itasca Park District, which oversees programming for the village-owned center, learned Saturday it was one of seven DuPage County agencies to receive public museum capital grants from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Maryfran Leno, the park district's executive director, said officials with both the village and park district are "ecstatic" about the planned improvements to the nature center.

"It (the nature center) already is a jewel," Leno said. "This is really going to help put it on the map as more of a destination location."

The total cost of the nature center project is estimated at $487,500. Most of that money will pay for the addition of animal exhibits, according to Beth Rodriguez, park district spokeswoman.

Rodriguez said the exhibits will house a variety of animals, including tarantulas, snakes, turtles and fish.

"Right now we have standard tanks and a couple of things here and there," she said. "These are all going to be built into the wall with rocks around them. It's going to be beautiful."

In addition, the project will replace three climate-control units, a water heater, siding, roofing and insulation. ADA accessibility also will be upgraded.

"There's a lot of required maintenance that needs to be done," Rodriquez said. "It's a very old building, and it really needs some upgrades."

Leno said the project will rejuvenate the building so it can last another 30 to 40 years.

"If we didn't have this grant coming through, we would not be doing this project," she said.

In addition to the grant, the village has donated $100,000 for the nature center project. The park district will contribute another $50,000, while the Friends of Springbrook group has made a $2,500 donation.

While Springbrook Nature Center is owned by the village, the facility is operated by the park district through an intergovernmental agreement.

Rodriguez said the design process for the project is beginning now. Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2015.

The other DuPage facilities that were awarded museum grants are Fischer Farm in Bensenville, Downers Grove Park District Museum, DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville, Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, Naper Settlement in Naperville, and the DuPage County Historical Museum in Wheaton.

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