La Grange Park, IL – The Community Park District’s Memorial Park Multi-Sport Courts were awarded the prestigious 20221 Outstanding Park and Facility Award by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) on Friday, January 28.
The IPRA Outstanding Park and Facility Award is presented to public agencies for outstanding and unique achievements in the design and development of new or renovated recreation parks and facilities. The Memorial Park Multi-Sport Courts scored an unprecedented 100 points, the highest total points among entries submitted across the State of Illinois. According to IPRA, no other agency has achieved a perfect score in recent record.
Located in La Grange Park’s Flagship Memorial Park, the sport court project addressed deteriorated tennis and multi-use courts that had been untouched since 2011. The renovation resulted in improved green infrastructure and a vibrant, community space that now includes tennis courts, pickleball courts, an outdoor fitness court, gaga ball pit, tetherball, mini racetrack, fitness walk, and more.
“We are so very proud of this achievement,” said Jessica Cannaday, Community Park District’s Executive Director, “it shows that projects many larger communities consider tiny do have a mighty impact.”
Planning from the project began in 2019, when the park district had been awarded a $30,000 grant from the National Fitness Campaign to install a state-of-the-art outdoor fitness court in September of 2019. Just as project plans were being created and funding sources established, the district had to halt the project’s progress to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. “We had to cancel recreational programming, traditional funding sources dried up, and that’s when the community rallied,” said Cannaday.
The park district generated more than $24,000 in donations from residents and businesses. Strive La Grange Park contributed $20,000 for the initial construction and an additional $5,000 to be received in subsequent years for maintenance and upkeep. The Village of La Grange Park also awarded the park district with a $25,000 TIF Grant to support the project. According to the park district, more than 11% of the project’s total budget was directly sourced from the community.
Anonymous judge feedback indicated that the Community Park District’s extensive outreach efforts during the planning phase made the project stand out. “Our staff and board are acutely aware of our responsibility to utilize every inch of recreational space available to us to best serve our community,” said Cannaday. The park district surveyed residents and worked with focus groups as well as community stakeholders to determine the best uses for the space. Then they engaged the help of JSD Planners, Engineers, Landscape Architects, Surveyors for their ability to face challenging spaces with creative solutions.
“JSD thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with the Community Park District to update the existing courts at Memorial Park into an innovated space for all ages and abilities” said project manager and senior landscape architect with JSD Lori Vierow.