Plans for the new “Spray and Play” park in Edwardsville are now taking shape, as the city continues to seek funds for its massive three-park development project.
The Spray and Play Park will be located adjacent to the new public safety building on the property of the county’s former Sheltered Care Home, and will include a splash pad as well as a dry playground designed with activities for children with disabilities. The park will include a walking trail, shade structures, pavilions, restrooms and a butterfly garden, as well as native plantings with educational signage.
A committee of local parents, residents, neighbors and community organizations helped develop the ideas for the features of the park, and worked with the designers for their plans.
“The committee had a lot of great ideas and helped us work through some options that provide the safest and most usable play features for kids of all ages,” said Katie Grable of the parks and recreation department. “We want to create something fun, inviting, and of course safe for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy.”
Funding for the project was to come in part from a $400,000 grant awarded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, but then the state put a hold on fulfilling grants as the legislature debates the state budget. In the meantime, the “Better Place to Play” committee has received a park and trail grant of $300,000 from Metro-East Park and Recreation District, $133,000 from Madison County’s Park Enhancement Program, $40,000 from the Junior Service Organization for the dry-land playground, $30,000 from the Edwardsville Rotary and $10,000 from First Cloverleaf Bank, as well as many other donations, according to Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton. The Madison County funding will go toward the fitness trail that will go around the perimeter of the park, Patton said.
The Spray and Play Park is one of three projects being planned in Edwardsville, including a major sports-field complex near the Goshen YMCA and an ice rink and teen center adjacent to Edwardsville High School. But Patton said these projects are still in development phases, with most of the efforts going toward the Spray and Play Park for now.
While they wait for word on the state grant, Patton said they are working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for site preparation and with the state Historic Preservation Commission regarding the small cemetery that rests on the back portion of the property. Currently enclosed with a chainlink fence in disrepair, Patton said they intend to put up a decorative fence and do some site maintenance to ensure that the cemetery is not disrupted by the construction around it.
“We will make sure the park is properly positioned away from the cemetery,” Patton said. “We will not disturb any burials.”
Patton said he hopes the project is still on track for the Spray and Play Park to open at Memorial Day 2016, but that will largely depend on the state’s decisions regarding the grant. “Because of the complexity of the site, we feel there is a lot of work to do by then,” Patton said. “We are still on track, should the state get their agreements in order.”
Meantime, Patton said he hopes the images of the future park will help spur donations both corporate and private, for community support of the project.
“I believe we have a lot of momentum in terms of public interest and would like to keep it going,” Patton said. “We will continue to look for opportunities to secure funds for the project and will do our best to keep the public informed of our progress.”
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.