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Grant to fund park projects in St. Charles

The St. Charles Park District is preparing to make the Fox River more accessible to those wanting to partake in water sports.

A $259,000 grant funded by the state’s Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program will help the park district complete several projects at Ferson Creek Park, including the installation of a paddle-sport appropriate dock.

Laura Rudow, the superintendent of parks and planning, said the amenity will be open to kayaks, rowing sculls, canoes and paddle boards. An equipment rack also will be available so the watercraft can be safely stored, she said.

“Had we not gotten the grant, we wouldn’t have done it,” Rudow said.

The St. Charles Park District was one of nearly 50 park or forest preserve districts to receive a share of the $16.5 million in OSLAD funding this year.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced the recipients earlier this month.

“Parks and outdoor recreational activities help make Illinois a great place to live and work,” Quinn said in a written statement. “These projects will create jobs, allow more families to get active outdoors and promote healthy lifestyles.”

Recipients are required to contribute at least half of the total project cost.

For Ferson Creek Park, Rudow said, the grant also will help with shoreline stabilization, the creation of outdoor classroom space and regular capital improvements that include replacing the fishing pier with one that is ADA compliant and replacing the playground and pavilion.

The upgrades should be completed in upcoming years, Rudow said, noting not everything was budgeted for 2014.

The Kane County Forest Preserve District was another OSLAD recipient. It was awarded $389,200 to help acquire a high-quality woodland in Big Rock Township. The 37-acre property, which is within the Big Rock Creek watershed, has pocket wetlands and ponds underneath hardwoods, according to the forest preserve district.

Plans for the site include a woodland/wetland interpretive trail, a parking area, an overlook and habitat restoration.

Forest Preserve Executive Director Monica Meyers said in a written statement that the organization is thrilled to receive the grant and to have the ability to preserve and protect the open space.

“Big Rock Creek is one of the highest-quality tributaries to the Fox River,” she said. “This project offers a first-time opportunity to invest in land in this section of the watershed.”

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