Revitalizing the Jacksonville Town Brook, one acre at a time.
That appears to be the goal of organizers of the recently-founded Jacksonville Park Foundation, who helped break ground for the Jacksonville Children’s Garden on the banks of the brook this afternoon. It took place on a half acre of land off Chambers and Church.
The land has been donated by Premier Bank, according to Park Foundation president Steve Warmowski. He says this is a good example of how parcels of land along the Town Brook can be put to use for the community.
“There are parcels of land that are available that are stuck in tax sales that are just sitting there. We wold love to either have people come forward and donate that to the city or somehow work with the city to have this be more of a park area,” says Warmowski.
“I think it’s better for the community to say [that] we want this to be a recreational path. We ant this to be a wooded area, some place that the whole community could use without it be just abandoned.”
The City of Jacksonville owns land along the Town Brook from MacMurray College to Diamond and in smaller segments extending to Lincoln Avenue, according to Warmowski. Several Town Brook cleanup events have been organized over the last few years.
Brothers Bill and Walter Meyer were among those in attendance at today’s event. They say they’ve been wanting to see the Town Brook turnaround since the 1970s, but Bill Meyer says the effort to get to this point started with a letter to the editor in the city newspaper about four years ago.
“We looked at MacMurray College and saw what MacMurray College had done with their property. After seeing that, we decided, why not do it from Wal-Mart all the way out to Mauvisterre Creek?” says Meyer. “Develop it into walking areas, walking paths, gardens. Have various functions that you could use for other purposes, kids activities.”
The garden is intended to be a “youth health initiative,” according to Warmowski. He talks about the goals the Park Foundation has for kids in working with the University of Illinois Extension office.
“Be more active and get introduced to vegetables, and get better nutrition,” he says. “This year, we were thinking about [planting] sunflowers. We might plant some tomatoes. We might even put in just small sample gardens. But, that program has yet to be developed.”
Warmowski says participation in this weekend’s Downtown Celebration with the events on the Town Brook, including the runs, walks and bike rides on Saturday, will help with this initiative and others of the Park Foundation in promoting health, recreation and family activities in the community.