Local park districts receive state funds for land buys and improvements
Ten DuPage County park districts are among the 75 agencies statewide that will receive a share of $26 million in Open State Land Acquisition and Development funds that Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Jan. 3.
The outgoing governor said the money to buy park land and make recreational improvements is an investment in the state's overall health.
"By investing in our parks and providing communities with more opportunities for recreation, we can improve the qualify of life for families while creating jobs and driving Illinois' economy forward," he said.
The OSLAD program provides $24 million of the awards, with an additional $2 million coming from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Together, the state and federal funds can provide up to one-half the cost of local park land acquisitions and projects.
Butterfield Park District was awarded $750,000 to go toward the purchase of a roughly 2.4-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53. The grant covers half the cost of the $1.5 million purchase price for the parcel. In November, voters in the park district serving unincorporated Glen Ellyn and Lombard had approved issuing nearly $3 million in bonds to buy the land, create trails, gardens and recreational opportunities on it, as well as to make improvements in the district's other parks.
Butterfield Park District Executive Director Larry Reiner said park officials had hoped then that the referendum money could to be used to acquire matching state and federal grants.
"We're greatly appreciative of state legislators, Gov. Quinn and the Illinois Association of Park Districts," he said. "This is a huge step for us. It allows us to focus on the future."
Oak Brook Park District was awarded $400,000 to renovate Central Park's athletic fields. The park district received two OSLAD grants in prior years that allowed it to add amenities to Central Park, such as the original splash pad and horseshoe pits, and helped finance the restoration and development of the Dorothy and Sam Dean Nature Sanctuary on Canterberry Lane.
Meanwhile, Bloomingdale Park District received $224,000 to improve Circle Park. The district plans $448,000 in renovations that include: a new nature playground, picnic shelter, small skate spot, adult outdoor fitness equipment, rain gardens and improvements to the stormwater system, renovated roller hockey rink for multi-season use and interpretive nature trail with educational signs.
Other DuPage County park districts received funds:
• Elmhurst Park District, $400,000 to renovate Butterfield Park in southeast Elmhurst;
• Oakbrook Terrace Park District, $400,000 to renovate Heritage Park;
• Glen Ellyn Park District, $400,000 to update recreational and ecological elements of Lake Ellyn Park;
• Itasca Park District, $363,500 to develop the Ray Franzen Bird Sanctuary off Rohlwing Road;
• Medinah Park District, $300,000 to renovate Riba Park in the southwest portion of the district;
• Westmont Park District, $400,000 for initial park development of 4.76 acres on Wilmette Avenue; and
• Winfield Park District, $245,200 to renovate 12-acre Wynwood Park.
Since its start in 1987, the OSLAD program has invested $390.5 million in 1,678 local park projects. The program receives funding from a percentage of the state's Real Estate Transfer Tax.