NILES TOWNSHIP, IL — A pair of local park districts have been awarded state grants for upgrades to their facilities.
The Niles Park District will receive $600,000 toward $2.2 million in construction at Golf Mill Park, while the Morton Grove Park District is set to get $352,200 toward $704,200 in renovations to Palma Lane Park.
On Tuesday, the governor’s office announced the winners of the 37th annual Open Space Land Acquisition and Development, or OSLAD, grant program, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, or IDNR.
The OSLAD program has awarded nearly $585 million to park projects since it began and is, according to the governor’s office, one of the most popular in Illinois.
“An investment in the outdoors is an investment in the health and well-being of the people of Illinois,” IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie said, announcing the grant winners. “We know that 83 percent of Illinoisans consider access to outdoor recreational opportunities important for them and their families. And studies show time and again that that getting outside leads to better overall health.”
The Niles Park District grant will go toward Phase 2 of the improvements to the Golf Mill Park recreational complex, according to application materials provided by district administrators.
The first phase, also supported by an OSLAD grant, covered renovated tennis court and basketball court, four new pickleball courts, a small picnic shelter, game tables, table tennis and a native garden.
The second phase will include a playground, soccer field, large picnic shelter, a pair of new bag toss games, fitness stations and a monarch butterfly wayfinding station.
“The proposed monarch waystation will include interpretive signage exhibiting the significance of providing habitat, host plants, and food sources for the endangered migratory monarch butterfly,” according to the grant application. “Native plants and a variety of milkweed species will be planted, allowing the space to be listed on the National Monarch Waystation Registry. Park users will be able to witness monarch butterflies grow and develop as well as a variety of pollinator species benefit from added native plants.”
The Morton Grove Park District grant will go toward a refresh of Palma Lane Park, a 2-acre site that was developed into a neighborhood park more than two decades ago and is “well used and ready for renovation,” district officials officials said in a project narrative statement.
The park will get a new playground, a fully renovated basketball court, a renovated baseball field and improvements to accessibility for disabled people. The path around the park will be expanded into an asphalt loop, while new benches and a pollinator garden will also be added.
“Nature play will also be included to enhance the design aesthetic as well as connect people to nature,” officials said.
According to the project narrative, the park district held two public input meetings to help form the vision for upgrades to the park.
Work on the Palma Lane Park project will to begin in May with permitting and bidding, with demolition and installation expected in the fall, Morton Grove Park District Executive Director Jeff Wait told Patch.
Niles Park District Executive Director Tom Elenz told Patch he expects the district to begin work on the Golf Mill project this summer with plans to complete it by the spring of 2025.
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