Governor J.B. Pritzker announced nearly $60 million in grants to local parks and recreation opportunities throughout the state yesterday. Just over $5.5 million of that total will be coming to communities in West Central Illinois.
The money will fund 118 projects in total throughout the state that include upgrades or new community pools, park updates and additions, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. Pritzker says that 25% of the money is going to locations labeled as distressed communities through the Open Land Space and Acquisition Program known as OSLAD: “The health and wellbeing of Illinoisans sits at the heart of the OSLAD program, and for the first time ever, we’ve been able to provide 100% of funding assistance to qualifying distressed recipients.” A number of the 118 communities are receiving OSLAD funding for the very first time.
Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton says the largest allocation of funding in the 36-year history of the program will have a tremendous impact on distressed communities and their residents: “The historic funding for economically distressed areas reflects our commitment to investing in the livelihoods of Illinoisans, uplifting the needs of young people and families so they may thrive.”
An economically distressed community, calculated using data from the Illinois Census and the Illinois Department of Revenue, considers an area’s poverty level and equalized assessed valuation (EAV). In FY 2023, as a result of the Department’s efforts, DNR awarded 25.5% of the OSLAD funding to distressed communities, up from 4.7% in FY 2022.
The Springfield Park District will receive a $600,000 OSLAD grant for a project at Gietl Park that includes demolishing an existing outdoor pool and bathhouse, and construction of a large, modern splash pad designed for multiple age groups. The park district will also add fencing, gates, concrete plazas, walkways, park shelters, LED lighting, landscaping, seating, picnic tables and more.
The City of Benld, in Macoupin County which is denoted as a distressed community, will build a park on the site of former Benld Elementary School, which was destroyed by underground mine subsidence in 2009. The city will receive a $600,000 OSLAD grant to develop that park.
OSLAD grants typically provide up to 50% of funding for a project – excluding economically distressed communities where 100% of project costs have been covered. The other 50% are supplied by matching funds from the project’s local government agency.
The following communities in West Central Illinois were recipients of the grants. An (*) denotes a distressed community:
Village of Hardin – $600,000 City of White Hall – $242,500 City of Jerseyville – $600,000
Village of Palmyra – $600,000 Havana Park District – $544,121* Village of Industry – $600,000*
City of Petersburg – $173,355 Village of Milton – $599,000* Village of Bluffs – $600,000*