Douglass Park to be redeveloped thanks to $300,000 grant

By Angelica Lavito

Douglass Park will receive updates, including a new pathway and pavilion, thanks to a $300,000 grant from Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Champaign Park District received $300,000 grant from the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program to improve the park, located on the corner of Fifth and Eureka streets.

“Our goal is to serve the needs of the community and to make the park better used,” said Chelsea Norton, Champaign Park District marketing manager. “If we can get the community outside to use it more, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.”

The grant is part of Quinn’s initiative to ensure that no child is left indoors. In total, $16.5 million was awarded to communities throughout the state to promote healthy living, according to a press release from Quinn’s office. 

Park district employees worked with members of the community to develop an improvement plan. A focus group was conducted with elementary school students to determine which features children enjoy most in a playground.

“I think it’s great. Anything to help the kids, you know what I’m saying, I think it’s really good,” said Champaign resident Brianna Davis.

The Champaign Park District applied for the grant last summer after they decided that Douglass Park deserved “extra attention,” Norton said.

“We found, based on talking to community members in that area, there are some areas where we can do better,” she added. “Since that’s what we’re all about at the Champaign Park District — serving the community in a way that’s relevant and valuable — we decided to go ahead and apply for this grant last summer,” 

Champaign resident Danielle McCleldon thinks the improvements will help Douglass Park provide residents with more reasons to come to the park.

“It would probably bring more people and it wouldn’t be dead all the time. The walking path will provide leisure for people with bikes and the pavilion will allow people to come here and barbeque,” she said.

Members of the Douglass Seniors program advocated for the installation of a pavilion so they can host community functions, according to Norton. The walking path and fitness stations are aimed at providing the community with healthy outdoor options.

“There are going to be a few of (the fitness stations) along the pathway, which is a great to get the community active and doing something a little bit different,” Norton said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in August and expected to be complete by next spring.

Angelica can be reached at [email protected]