Park District of Oak Park lands $400,000 grant for Mills Park improvements

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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

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.

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Reader Comments

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Steve from OP  

Posted: May 31st, 2011 2:14 PM

I live right next to Mills Park. This will be great from my 2 daughters and our neighbors. We have often felt that Mills Park was not used well. Also, the only children's play area we have near us was the Randolph Tot Lot (which is minor and only for the youngest of kids). Cheers to the PD and Gary for getting this **GRANT** money from the State. Well done!

Al rossell from Oak park  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 4:49 PM

No mention of the "permanent" tent so they can hold more weddings.Surprised that the feds would permit such a thing to mar the exterior of the building. In addition, shows how two faced the historic commission is if they permitted it.

To Moving Out  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 3:44 PM

You want to charge a fee for people to take pictures in a public park? Now that's a dumb idea. Thank you to The Park District for their restorations.

Movin out  

Posted: May 27th, 2011 2:34 PM

Sad thing is this should not have beed a "renovation" but a Restoration of the grounds to their original splendor. Not many people know that the foundation of the original Italian Garden is still in place and that the proporty had a terraced garden. Sad that something like that could have brought revenue to the Park District with wedding photography rentals much like Wheaton has in one of their parks. Sad.


Posted: May 27th, 2011 10:02 AM

long overdue. good work gary.

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