WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced $3 million to assist eight cities in constructing and enhancing parks and other outdoor recreation facilities in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Projects range from the renovation of an athletic complex in Detroit, Michigan to construction of a new skate park in Madison, Wisconsin.
The grants, part of a new competitive grant program called the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership, are funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For more than 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has invested revenue from federal offshore oil and gas royalties into more than 40,000 outdoor recreation facilities and conservation projects in every state.
“These eight projects are models of what we have been able to accomplish through the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the past half century,” Jewell said. “We are reinvesting revenues from offshore oil and gas development into parks and open spaces, giving back a portion of what we have taken from our lands and waters. These investments will bring badly needed outdoor spaces and recreational opportunities to urban areas where people – especially young people – will benefit from improved places for healthy outdoor activities.”
“Supporting local communities as they create and improve spaces for outdoor recreation through the LWCF Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership grants allows the National Park Service to meet our goal of connecting all Americans to spaces where they can enjoy the great outdoors and establish meaningful relationships in their communities and with their public lands,” said Jarvis.
Congress created the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, administered by the National Park Service, to complement the agency’s existing Land and Water Conservation Fund State and Local Assistance Program. The new program seeks to identify and highlight new ways of providing opportunities for expanding outdoor play in areas with great need, as well as promoting the development of new or enhanced partnerships for outdoor recreation in urban communities across the nation.
President Obama and Secretary Jewell have urged Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is due to expire this year, and to provide full, permanent funding of the $900 million authorized under the law.
The grants announced today are:
Mobile, AL -- $386,525 – The City of Mobile will transform Three Mile Creek from a degraded urban stormwater conveyance into a community asset that will connect diverse neighborhoods and provide new recreation opportunities. The grant will support the initial construction of a planned 12-mile greenway system in a low-income, minority area with limited recreation resources. The .75-mile multi-use trail segment will also include a fitness circuit/parcourse, lighting, benches, and educational/interpretive signs.
Denver, CO -- $250,000 – The City of Denver and private partners will preserve 4.5 acres in the Montbello neighborhood of northeast Denver to provide a unique, natural open-space park in a densely developed residential area, restore habitat for wildlife, and offer low-impact recreation and science education opportunities primarily to youth. The grant will support enhancements to the currently vacant urban site, which is at risk of development, including restoration of native shortgrass prairie and installation of a soft surface walking trail, seating and nature play areas, display gardens, science stations, and way-finding and interpretative signs.
Bridgeport, CT -- $375,000 – The City of Bridgeport and private partners will transform a 4-acre project area comprising Johnson Oak Park and the grounds of the Jettie S. Tisdale School in the East End neighborhood of the city. The neighborhood is predominantly minority and low income and is underserved in terms of recreation resources. The project will address issues of physical safety, criminal activity, and other recreation needs. The grant will support the first phase of planned enhancements including a picnic grove, spray pad, playground equipment, a fitness zone exercise area, and playing fields.
Atlanta, GA -- $280,000 – The City of Atlanta and private partners will create a new 9.2-acre community park adjacent to and inclusive of a portion of Proctor Creek in northwestern Atlanta. The surrounding neighborhoods are minority and low income and lack safe and accessible recreation opportunities. The grant will support the first phase of development of the planned park, which includes installing a 1,400-foot pedestrian and bike trail that will also provide the access to the park; three new adult fitness stations and three children’s play stations; benches; and unstructured spaces for picnicking and play.
Detroit, MI -- $325,000 – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and private partners will renovate and revitalize the 50+-acre Athletic Complex at Belle Isle Park. The complex is located on the 982-acre island park in the Detroit River, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grant will support rehabilitation of some of the outdoor facilities at the complex, which cannot be used/are underutilized due to their deteriorated condition, including fields for baseball/softball, soccer, lacrosse, and cricket; tennis and basketball courts; a trailhead and discovery playground; and sidewalks connecting the various facilities to each other and the rest of the complex.
Minneapolis, MN -- $500,000 – The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will develop a new 3.5-acre park on a former industrial site on the Mississippi River in northeastern Minneapolis. Sheridan Memorial Park will be located in an area that is underserved by recreation opportunities and characterized by significant low-income and minority populations, a larger youth population, and above-average rate of negative health issues. The grant will support development of a playground, a multi-purpose field, a picnic area, picnic shelter/restroom building, pathways connecting to a regional trail network, and an environmentally restored riverfront.
Portland, OR -- $500,000 – The City of Portland, Verde, and private partners will develop a 25-acre park on a former brownfield in the Cully neighborhood of northeast Portland. The neighborhood, one of Portland’s larger and more populous neighborhoods, is predominantly minority and low-income and has limited outdoor recreation opportunities as compared to other regional areas. The grant will restore habitat and support development of an accessible playground, walking trail with exercise equipment, scenic overlooks, off leash dog area, Intertribal Gathering Garden (open to the public), and a youth soccer field at Thomas Cully Park.
Madison, WI -- $295,308 – The City of Madison will continue re-development and revitalization of a vacant/underutilized former industrial area by constructing its first skatepark at the newly-opened Central Park in Madison’s Near East Side. Youth and young adults have played an active role in the design and realization of this project, which will offer a legal, safe and attractive destination for people of all skate skill levels. Construction of the 20,000-square foot skatepark will also include necessary support facilities such as lighting, walkways, landscaping, fencing, benches, an underdrain system, and drinking fountain.