Black Hawk Park District in Warren and the Village of Davis Junction got boosts when Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced their projects were among 87 in Illinois to receive a portion of $30.3 million in grants.
Fehr Graham Senior Community Development Specialist Bridgette Stocks helped secure $100,000 each for Black Hawk Park District and Davis Junction through Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants.
Black Hawk Park District will use its grant for the construction and implementation of an Americans with Disabilities Act-complaint Pool House at Meridian Park.
Black Hawk Park District Board President Joel Fonseca said with the grant, plans are to rebuild the entire interior of the Pool House to make it more accessible, inclusive and updated.
This is the second OSLAD grant Fehr Graham has helped secure for the Black Hawk Park District. The first grant received in January 2020 secured $400,000 to help fund the $2.8 million pool that will replace the pool built in 1977. Fonseca said the pool is a large part of the Warren community, offering swimming lessons and a place for outdoor recreation. With the zero-entry design, the new pool will be more accessible and inclusive. Construction is underway, and the pool is slated to open in June 2023.
"Fehr Graham helped us with several things, but the biggest thing was having Bridgette writing these grants," Fonseca said. "There's lots of red tape and she's very knowledgeable – we are really grateful to have her on our side."
Davis Junction will use its grant to acquire 10 acres to expand Community Park. Park Supervisor Nathan Hill said they plan to work in phases, and securing money to purchase land is the first step. Fehr Graham also developed a Master Plan that focused on accommodating park users.
"It's been great working with Fehr Graham," Hill said. "Everyone has been wonderful in helping us achieve what we want to do."
Hill said they hope to host softball, football and soccer at the same time instead of rotating weekends at the park that's now "bursting at the seams." Long-term goals include overflow parking, an additional athletic field, access to trails, park paths, disc golf and a dog park.
The grants are administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR). OSLAD grants can provide up to one-half of a project's funds and, when combined with local matching funds, will support more than $56 million in local park development projects and land acquisitions statewide.
"Investments in our local parks are investments in our communities," Pritzker said. "Park projects don't just create jobs and boost local economic development — they open the gateway for a healthier, happier Illinois. Every family in our state deserves nearby access to outdoor public spaces where they can gather with their friends and neighbors — and enjoy some sunshine, too."
The OSLAD program began in 1987 and has invested $433.5 million in 1,816 local park projects. The program receives dedicated funding from a percentage of the state's Real Estate Transfer Tax.
A full list of this year's OSLAD grant recipients and project information can be found here, sorted by county.