By Randy Pierce
Subsequent to its meeting held on Tuesday, July 11, the Metro East Park and Recreation District is making available $3.4 million-plus in grant funding for its support of applicable projects in Madison and St. Clair counties.
The MEPRD office is located at 104 United Drive west of Illinois Route 157 and north of Interstate 55-70 in Collinsville.
As a continuance of the MEPRD program which has funded numerous parks and recreation projects and improvements for nearly two decades in the communities like Troy, Collinsville, Maryville and Glen Carbon, applications are now being accepted, reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis in three different grant categories:
Parks and Trails – municipalities, townships, counties, park districts, transit districts, universities and organizations registered with the state as non-profit entities may seek reimbursement grants of up to $100,000 for parks improvements, upgrades and projects not related to public trails OR up to $300,000 for regional trail projects, these awards not to exceed 40 per cent of eligible expenses.
There are two rounds for this parks and trails grant program, for which $3 million has been set aside, one, under way currently, to end August 31 and the second to begin the following day and conclude May 31, 2024. Further details are available at http://www.meprd.org/park-trail-grant.
Community Planning – $400,000 has been designated for municipalities, counties, townships, park districts and transit districts with this grant offering up to $40,000 or 40 percent of eligible project costs, whichever is less, for the development of parks master plans and/or community-wide bicycle and pedestrian master plans with applications to be accepted through May 31, 2024. More information can be found at http://www.meprd.org/planning-grant.
Event Sponsorship – $20,000 in MEPRD funding has been earmarked for non-profit organizations to promote the use of public parks and trails through the hosting of walking, running, bicycling and similar events (including biathlons and triathlons). Awards of $1000 for non-profit organizations and $2500 for public organizations are part of this funding program, not to exceed 25 per cent of the event’s total cost in each instance. May 31, 2024, is also the deadline for submissions of applications for this grant for which more details are available at http://www.meprd.org/event-sponsorship.
Since its inception in 2000, following the approval of a referendum by voters for a .10 per cent sales tax on tangible product purchases to support parks and recreation projects in the two-county region, the MEPRD has provided $38 million for this purpose in support of 247 different projects.
An increase in its income resulting from higher sales tax revenue being generated in this area has led to the MEPRD being enabled to increase its allotment of grant funds since this funding effort was initiated.
Among the more recent MEPRD-supported projects in Troy are the Tri-Township Park Trail extension to U.S. Senator Paul Simon Park, anticipated for completion in 2024, and the local park splash pad.
Also helped along with money from the MEPRD in Glen Carbon was its parks and trails master plan set for completion this year and the first phase of its shared-use path due to be finished in 2025.
Still another beneficiary of the MEPRD grant program is St. Jacob Township which received support for its bicycle master plan that will be put into place in 2024.
The dozens of improvements under way or newly-implemented opportunities for parks and recreation activities resulting from this grant program have included those at Woodland Park in Collinsville and the City of Collinsville’s bicycle and pedestrian master plan, slated to be finished next year.