SPRINGFIELD, Ill.Gov. Rod Blagojevich has announced $23 million in grants for local park districts to assist them in their efforts to buy land and develop parks.
Nearly 1,000 acres of land are being acquired for 11 parks with a portion of the funding.
The grants are provided from two sources of funding: Illinois Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program. Both programs, by law, provide funding for local park projects. Communities are reimbursed for up to half the cost of a project.
Maximum grant awards are $750,000 for acquisition and $400,000 for development projects. To qualify for a grant, a local agency must show a need and local support for the project, the ability to carry it out and must have a good record of maintaining other facilities. The project proposals are reviewed and recommended to the governor by the Natural Resources Advisory Board, a citizen panel.
Rockford-area grant recipients, funding amounts and project descriptions:
BYRON, CITY OF (Ogle County): $28,500, to develop a 1.8-acre site on Hampton Drive with playground equipment, a shelter and a basketball court.
FLAGG-ROCHELLE COMMUNITY PARK DISTRICT (Ogle County): $500,000, to acquire 16.43 acres of land that is the site of the Rochelle High School Athletic Field Complex. Existing facilities are a football field, nine tennis courts, a baseball diamond and a softball diamond. The site is located on Highway 38 in Rochelle.
LOVES PARK, CITY OF (Winnebago County): $400,000, to develop a new regional skate park facility and rock climbing wall on two acres to be donated to the city. The site is adjacent to the Harlem Community Park on Forest Hills Road.
MC HENRY COUNTY CONSERVATION DISTRICT, $106,000, to develop recreational and educational opportunities at the Elizabeth Lake Conservation Area. Specific improvements include parking, hiking trails with interpretive signs and a wetland boardwalk around the existing lake. The site is off Lakeview Road in Richmond Township.
MC HENRY COUNTY CONSERVATION DISTRICT, $750,000, to acquire 130 acres of riparian corridor and wetland complex to conserve the greenway along the lower reaches of Nippersink Creek. The site is off Highway 12 just east of Spring Grove.