Community Park District of La Grange Park Awarded $600,000 for the Renovation of Yena Park

Thursday, February 1 2024

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources awarded the Community Park District of La Grange Park a $600,000 OSLAD Grant for the renovation of Yena Park. “This grant will be transformational for our parks,” says Sara Earhart, Superintendent of Parks for the district and a La Grange Park resident.

In 2021, the district conducted a comprehensive park inventory and assessment as part of its long-range planning process and the quality of Yena Park received the second lowest rating in La Grange Park – the lowest rating belonged to Beach Oak Park which will celebrate a grand re-opening in the spring of 2024.

Through an existing debt refinance and the issuance of new non-referendum bonds, the district had generated approximately $600,000 to allocate to park improvements outside of Beach Oak Park. An amount that would cover less than half of the essential park improvements outlined in the Yena Park conceptual plan. This was the district’s second attempt at acquiring matching state funding for Yena Park through the OSLAD program.

“We know the incredible impact the Yena Park project will have on our entire community, and we weren’t going to give up on it,” says Executive Director Jessica Cannaday. According to Cannaday, the district received an outpouring of letters of support for both grant applications from residents and groups including La Grange Park Little League, School District 95, School District 102, La Grange Park Chamber of Commerce, the Arbor Advocates, and many more.

The district worked with the community to refine its conceptual plan, adding designated pickleball and increasing nature-based play spaces for the grant resubmittal. The plan also calls for the preservation of existing trees, the addition of water fountains, ADA accessibility improvements, athletic field renovations, playground replacement, tennis court renovations, and the addition of a perimeter walking path around the entire park. “This grant allows us to address a huge number of resident needs and requests and better serve people of all ages and abilities,” says Park Board President Bob Corte.

“I appreciate Governor Pritzker’s continued efforts to ensure funding for the OSLAD program, which is a vital tool for communities to build safe, engaging, and accessible outdoor spaces for their residents,” said IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie.

With the funding now available for Yena Park, the Community Park District says residents can look forward to celebrating the grand reopening of Yena Park in 2025. Executive Director Cannaday says that residents should keep their eyes open for additional input meetings. “As we move towards finalizing construction plans, there are still important decisions to be made and we are committed to working with residents and stakeholders to make sure we get the details and project timing just right.”

Nearly $55 million in state grants are being awarded for 111 local park projects throughout Illinois to help communities acquire land and develop recreational opportunities, Gov. JB Pritzker announced today. For the second year in a row, the governor ensured funding was set aside for economically distressed communities, resulting in 32 underserved locations receiving $18.7 million in grants from the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development, or OSLAD, program. This is the 37th year for the program, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1986, OSLAD is a cost-sharing program between state and local governments that helps communities fund land acquisition and development for parks and outdoor recreation projects. It’s become one of the most popular grant programs in Illinois. Since it was established, OSLAD has awarded nearly $585 million for park projects throughout Illinois (including the awards announced in 2024).