By Marty Farmer
Although the Park District of Oak Park hasn't been notified whether it will receive a PARC grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, no news still holds the possibility of good news.
The grant would be funded under the Illinois Jobs Now! construction initiative and is part of $50 million available through the Parks and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) grants program.
"The park district hasn't been notified of a grant award but we are still hopeful," said Diane Stanke, the park district's director of marketing and customer service. "The governor is not announcing all grant awards at one time."
Last Saturday, Gov. Pat Quinn visited Forest Park to announce a $2.5 million grant which will be a major boost to that village's park district and its plan to build a new recreational facility at Harrison Street and Circle Avenue, the site of the now demolished Roos Cedar Chest factory.
The Oak Park park district submitted its grant application on March 10, 2014 in the amount of $1,575,000 to help finance Phase 1 of its Rehm Pool improvements. The total cost of the project is $2.1 million. The park district has budgeted approximately $500,000 in its CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) which meets the 25 percent match required for the PARC grant.
"If we do not receive the PARC grant, the park district will have to budget additional funds in our Capital Improvement Plan," Stanke said. "This would push [Phase 1 of the Rehm Pool project] back to an undetermined date."
Phase 1 improvements include the following: around the children's area, a remodeled bathhouse, zero-depth splash pad and improved shade, seating and concession amenities.
After the completion of the opening phase of improvements, two remaining phases are planned. Phase 2, the diving well area, will include water flume slides, climbing wall and drop slides, new diving boards along with new pool gutter and filters at an estimated cost of $1.8 million. The project's third phase will cost approximately $3.1 million and focus on the main pool, including 50-meter lanes plus a lazy river, expanded deck and new pool gutters. The project has a targeted completion date of 2020.
Local park districts have benefited greatly from the PARC grant program. In December 2011, the park district of Oak Park received a $1.6 million PARC grant for the renovation of Scoville Park, which reopened on June 1, 2013.
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