O'Fallon park volunteer project is new puzzle piece to new park name
Rotary Club volunteers have put a ton of work into Rock Springs Park, so the city of O’Fallon is rewarding them by renaming it Rock Springs Rotary Park next month.
The club’s latest project is a custom-designed outdoor area with two wooden pavilions surrounding a stone fire pit. A new concrete path will connect it to Rock Springs Nature Center, a building also constructed by Rotary Club of O’Fallon volunteers.
Rotarian and self-proclaimed park enthusiast Tanya Hawkins said the new pavilions and outdoor hotspot still under construction at the park is “just incredible and beautiful.”
Since the early 2000s, club volunteers have poured a lot of sweat and hundreds of hours into transforming Rock Springs Park into an outdoor family destination for O’Fallon families.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” Rotarian Mark Fulford said.
“This is not something that, typically, organizations would take on. It’s a pretty big commitment, and we are proud of it,” he added.
The park is located at 1428 E. 3rd St. in O’Fallon and features a 1-mile outer paved pedestrian trail and a half-mile inner paved trail.
There is also a fenced-off dog park that visitors can access from the trails; it’s equipped with pavilions, picnic benches, water buckets for furry friends, as well as dog-training structures.
“The park has people come out all the time for all many reasons. It’s going to be even more of a destination with the way this is coming together full circle,” Hawkins said.
The Rotary Club built the Rock Springs Nature Center log cabin facility in 2005, a project that took the better part of a year. Club volunteers’ efforts have also been put toward constructing pavilions and playground activity structures at the park.
“We had great, outstanding support from our club members,” Fulford said.
With more than 40 years of home-builder experience under his belt, Fulford was dubbed the project manager for the new pavilions.
Sitting behind the nature center, the new pavilion started going vertical Nov. 1, 2017 and is about two-thirds complete, Fulford said.
“About 95 percent of the work has been all-volunteer, provided from the hands of about 26 Rotarians on site and some other friends and family,” Fulford said.
Two identical log pavilions surround the stone fire pit, which Fulford said serves as the focal point of the custom-designed project.
“The project should be done by mid-March,” Fulford said.
The logs were fabricated in Michigan and still need to be stained. Also, the metal roof needs to be installed atop both pavilions, Fulford said.
“So, on top of that flagstone patio, around the fire pit, will be four, large log benches and two larger picnic tables under each pavilion, and a couple of more outside the pavilion,” Fulford said.
The city is handling the concrete walkways and patio area, according to Fulford.
“The plan is to install some landscaping on the outside perimeter,” he said.
The park will also be re-named the Rock Springs Rotary Park sometime in March, following the completion of the project.
“It’ll be nice. So people can sit around the fire pit, whether it be clubs, like Rotary or Garden (Club) or Boy Scouts, or even families wanting to rent the area so they can relax and roast marshmallows,” Fulford said.
The total project cost sits at about $85,000.
The Rotary Club is providing $10,000 in labor and $25,000 cash to assist with costs, like materials.
But, Fulford said, the Rotary Club has had help from the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Department.
“This partnership, like many others, has been great — they were able to secure a grant to help, and our club has done a lot of fund raising, as well,” Fulford said.
St. Clair County Parks Grant Commission provided a $50,000 grant towards the project at the O’Fallon park.
O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Director Mary Jeanne Hutchison said part of the project cost also includes resurfacing some of the park’s trails and a new sign.
“It is always a joy to work with the O’Fallon Rotary clubs. They have provided so many improvements to the parks and the community. The volunteer hours are endless. Mark Fulford, Harlem Gerrish and many others have worked hard on building the facility,” Hutchison said.
According to Hutchison, the park was acquired by the city in the 1960s, but not developed until the early 1990s under former Mayor Gary Graham’s leadership.
Fulford said Rotary has “outstanding commitment” to the community, which is why he continues to be one of about 80 members who supports its projects.
“It’s a great organization that does a lot of good, both in the local community, as well as worldwide,” Fulford said.
The nature center, pavilions and fire pit will be available to rent for both O’Fallon residents and non-residents from March 1 through Oct. 31. For more information call 618-624-0139, or visit www.ofallon.org.