Quincy Park District awarded $600,000 state grant for all-inclusive playground at Wavering Park; Perry also gets grant

PARK DRAWING

Above is an artist's rendering of the $1.37 million all-inclusive playground, shelter and restroom to be built at Wavering Park. | Photo courtesy of Quincy Park District

QUINCY — Work on the construction of a $1.37 million all-inclusive playground, shelter and restroom at Wavering Park could start by fall.

Rome Frericks, executive director of the Quincy Park District, learned Tuesday that an application for a $600,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources had been awarded. 

The estimated cost of the project is $1,376,653. Frericks says the Park District will use $400,000 from its 2024 general obligation bonds that Park Board members voted to approve in October 2023. The remainder of the project will be paid for out of corporate reserves. 

Frericks said more than 200 applications were submitted to the Department of Natural Resources. Nearly $55 million in state grants were awarded for 111 local park projects throughout Illinois to help communities acquire land and develop recreational opportunities.

The playground and shelter will be similar to one built at Lincoln Park which was first available to the public in October 2015. Frericks says no other similar playgrounds can be found within a 70-mile radius of Quincy.

“It’s just going to bring more people into Quincy on the weekends as well,” Frericks said. “It’s just great that we can create that quality of life and get people into our green spaces. 

“This is not just great for the citizens of Quincy but for the area. Many Quincy residents come down here to Lincoln Park, but a school bus from Missouri or Iowa will come down for a field trip, and our Quincy citizens get kind of forced to go somewhere else. Having a second all-inclusive playground is just huge for all people of all abilities.”

Frericks applied for an OSLAD grant in 2022 for the same project but was unsuccessful. He said he and his staff worked with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on ways to “hone in and freshen up” the application. The Park Board authorized in August a second application for the grant.

“Lo and behold, we were successful in achieving that,” he said. “I spent more than 200 hours on this grant. I was ecstatic that we got the good news yesterday so I didn’t have to spend that type of time again.”

Frericks said the last time the Park District received an OSLAD grant was in 2015 when it was used to build the skate park at Lincoln Park.

Funding also was set aside for economically distressed communities, resulting in 32 underserved locations receiving $18.7 million in OSLAD grants. The village of Perry was determined to be one of those locations worthy of a $600,000 grant. 

The grant will help upgrade the Church of Christ Memorial Park (also known as Perry East Park) into a multi-use, handicapped-accessible public park with a pickleball court, half of a basketball court, a paved walking path, and a shelterhouse with a restroom in the northeast corner of the property.

The park is where the Church of Christ building, built in 1880, was struck by lightning in September 2014 and engulfed in flames. Village board member Nikki Mountain said the congregation cleared the property, built a gazebo in the northeast corner of the property and granted the property to the village. 

Mountain said the village board also bought an adjoining lot to the church property before submitting its OSLAD grant application, allowing for an improved and enlarged public space. She believes the upgrades at the park will be available for public use in 2025.

“I appreciate Gov. (JB) Pritzker’s continued efforts to ensure funding for the OSLAD program, which is a vital tool for communities to build safe, engaging, and accessible outdoor spaces for their residents,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Natalie Phelps Finnie said in a press release. “An investment in the outdoors is an investment in the health and well-being of the people of Illinois. We know that 83 percent of Illinoisans consider access to outdoor recreational opportunities important for them and their families. Studies show time and again that getting outside leads to better overall health.”

The Church of Christ Memorial Park (also known as Perry East Park) will be upgraded to have a multi-use, handicapped-accessible public park with a pickleball court, half of a basketball court, a paved walking path, and a shelterhouse with a restroom in the northeast corner of the property. | Photo courtesy of Nikki Mountain

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