Improvements coming to Rockford’s Keye-Mallquist Park

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – The Rockford Park District will receive a $275,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, giving area youth, teens, and families a  variety of new ways to recreate and spend quality time together at Keye-Mallquist Park, 1702 11th St.

The park district will utilize $275,000 out of its capital funds to fulfill the required grant match to improve the park. In addition, the Blazer Foundation, a local foundation committed to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities, has committed up to $100,000 for universal surfacing for the play area.

“I am excited about what this means for the 11th ward, especially for all the residents and businesses nearby,” Rockford Ald. Tuffy Quinonez (D-11) said. “We have a lot of families in the area that will utilize this park even more, and this will keep kids busy and active. Adding new amenities such as a picnic area will also bring neighbors out to the park to enjoy these new spaces and to get to know one another.”

The Rockford Park District Foundation will work closely with the neighborhoods and businesses around Keye-Mallquist Park to raise additional dollars and local support.  Total investment in the project will exceed $600,000.

“This is great news for the youth and families who utilize Keye-Mallquist Park.  In the summer, we have over 100 youth daily at our neighborhood park program, and we expect that number to grow based on all that will be added and renovated,” Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine said. Neighborhood parks play a critical role in the health and well-being of our community, and will be vital as our community rebounds from the current health crisis.”

Sandine said the Blazer Foundation donation will allow for a special playground surface that allows for better accessibility, leaving Keye-Mallquist with one of the best playgrounds and play areas in the city, along with plenty of new amenities.

Last summer, the Rockford Park District received feedback from area youth who live near the park and utilize the free Time 2 Play summer playground program.  A survey was also sent to residents to gather feedback about which recreational features they would like to remain, and which new amenities should be added at their neighborhood park. Additional feedback will be gathered from youth this summer about specific playground components.  As of now, demolition of certain amenities would take place this fall, and work at the park would be complete by the summer of 2021.

Keye-Mallquist Park Reinvestment Project

  • New playground with universal playground surfacing 
  • New outdoor fitness area
  • New multi-use sports field 
  • New multi-use game court for hopscotch, foursquare, and gaga ball
  • New picnic area
  • Improvements to existing restrooms and storage building for summer      program
  • Renovation of existing basketball courts, along with a ball field 

The 6-acre Keye-Mallquist Park originally called Southeast Park, but was renamed after Francis S. Keye and Allan C. Mallquist who donated 24 acres of land to the Rockford Park District. The original  shelter was designed in the 1920s by noted architect Jessie Barloga.

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