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State grant moves Patton Park redevelopment forward

Courtesy photo
Macomb Park District
Phase one of redevelopment of Patton Park on Macomb's southwest side is complete. Now a state grant will move the project into the second phase, ahead of schedule.

The Macomb Park District has received a $360,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the redevelopment of Patton Park.

Executive Director Rachel Lenz said the Open Space Lands and Acquisition Grant will launch the project into a second phase, ahead of schedule.

“This grant took this project from a five to seven year development to a two to three year development,” Lenz said.

Patton Park is on Macomb’s southwest side off West Grant and South Ward streets.

Lenz said while it’s one of the city’s largest parks, it’s also the one most in need of attention.

Over the years, the park has been known for its ball diamonds and dog park, but the rest of the space was rundown, with roads starting to crumble.

Lenz said the idea to improve the space came out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With stay-at-home orders, people were looking for places to gather safely.

“Our district saw a different need for our community -- to provide a safe space,” Lenz said.

The park district found an old master plan for Patton from the 1980s, and about a third of the current-day redevelopment plan came from that, Lenz said.

“Then some of it came from things I’ve seen in other parks, some of it came from plans I’ve seen done in other districts. So it was a nice blend of a lot of different spaces and different organizations that I’ve come across in my ten years as director,” Lenz said.

The park district presented the development plan to the public in the fall of 2020, and began phase one work with state money and local donations.

Projects completed in the first phase include Pathways to Play nature education areas, ziplines, a new restroom, some new parking, and a new, large dog park – in the shape of a dog bone.

The dog park was made possible by a donation from Dave and Jackie Thompson.

Phase two projects will include a boardwalk, fishing pier and over a mile and a half of multi-use trail.

“It’s going to be a ten-foot wide path that people can walk, ride, stroller, blade, and skateboard,” Lenz said.

There will also be a vegetative barrier on Grant Street to deal with odor from a nearby sewage plant, multiple shade structures, wetland restoration, rain and meditative gardens, and other park amenities.

Eventually basketball courts and concrete games will be added, too.

The redeveloped park is meant to be a multi-generational space, with activities and attractions for people of all ages.

Lenz said that’s a trend in the parks world.

That’s why you’ll see fitness stations next to playground equipment at many parks — including Patton — these days.

It also means the park is designed to provide innovative opportunities for recreation, socialization, and education for all generations.

“Really encompassing it and making it a place where parents feel their kids are safe, where kids actually have engagements that they’re excited to be a part of,” Lenz said.

Patton Park’s ball diamonds, pond, and current pavilion were developed with an OSLAD grant in the 1980s.

"It’s exciting to see that the state is still investing in things they’ve invested in in the past, seeing the importance of regenerating those spaces,” Lenz said.

The park district will match the state grant with money from its capital improvement fund.

More information about the Patton Park project is on the park district website.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson covers west central Illinois and southeast Iowa for Tri States Public Radio.