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By Megan Dooley
The Park District of Oak Park has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Open Space and Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant program, for the ongoing redesign project at Mills Park.
The award is a matching grant, and the park district will use money from their Capital Improvement Fund to supply their $400,000 portion.
A project to restore the fence surrounding the park, which has been designated a national historic landmark, is currently underway. The park enhancement will include new park entrances, a pathway system through the grounds, improved access points, a nature discovery children's play area, a tree arbor, a native grass and wildflower display, a labyrinth, and public sitting areas.
Park district executive director Gary Balling said that a portion of those improvements were reliant upon receiving the OSLAD grant. Otherwise, they would have been cut from the plan. The final timeline for the developments has not yet been mapped out.
"These funds allow the park district to expand the scope of the Mills Park renovation project to provide more recreation experiences for our residents. They help to stimulate the local economy, provide jobs, and, most importantly, enhance the quality of life in our community," said board president Marty Bracco.
Laura Thompson, executive director of the Pleasant Home Foundation, which is located on the grounds of Mills Park, was delighted at the news. "I actually have tears in my eyes!" she said.