Waukegan's Eugene P. King Park gets nearly $1 million upgrade
The Waukegan Park District got a big boost from the state to help renovate its Eugene P. King Park at 301 South Ave. The district has been diligently working to update its parks, facilities and amenities including replacing nine playgrounds over the past few years. The most recent project focused on King Park where work began over the summer. It reopened to the community in late October. Upgrades included new playground equipment, a half-court basketball court, a half-sized soccer field, a fitness challenge course, a picnic shelter with a grill, restrooms and an improved baseball field.
Park district officials said the total cost of the King Park renovation was $960,460. The district received $400,000 from the state of Illinois through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Open Space Lands Acquisition Development (OSLAD) Program for the project. The City of Waukegan also contributed $10,000 through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.
The district says King Park is named after one of the first African American physicians in Waukegan, Dr. Eugene P. King. Dr. King started baseball leagues for African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s when the sport was not yet integrated. Waukegan Park District executive director Jay Lerner says King Park is a popular gathering place for the neighborhood and that local organizations provided input during the planning process, including Beacon Place and the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County.
"The renovation of King Park is part of our commitment to ensure that neighborhoods across the district have access to park space and recreational amenities. We hope the improvements to King Park stimulate other investments in the neighborhood," Lerner said. "Property values increase and families are attracted to neighborhoods with active and vibrant parks."
Other projects in the works this fall and next year include new playground equipment at Ben Diamond Park, including the district's first zip line feature, and renovations to Victory and Corrine J. Rose parks. "Residents have responded positively and have shown excitement for the new and improved amenities in their neighborhood park. Community leaders have extended gratitude for our investment in the neighborhood," Lerner said.
The Waukegan Park District was established on December 26, 1916, and has 50 properties and more than 737 acres of land, including the 18-hole Bonnie Brook and 9-hole Greenshire Golf Courses. For information, visit waukeganparks.org.