A new 1.4 mile, $125,000 Family Fitness Trail being built at Spanish Lake Park in North St. Louis County will open for public use on August 23 following a 10:00 a.m. dedication ceremony. Designed for outdoor exercise and active play the entire family can enjoy together, the new trail features four separate educational and nature-themed children’s play stations plus a variety of adult exercise equipment, benches and new landscaping linked by an existing paved trail. Animal climbing structures featured at each play station are along the same lines as Turtle Park near the St. Louis Zoo.
“We envision children leading their adult and other playmates from station to station and keeping the entire family moving along the length of the trail for an hour or more,” said Mark Ohlendorf, President of the St. Louis County Parks Foundation Board of Directors. “This will allow parents and grandparents to interact with the young people in their lives while everyone enjoys the benefits of regular exercise. It will also create a better sense of community and identity in the Spanish Lake, Black Jack and surrounding areas while improving the aesthetic appeal of the park.”
Funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the Gateway Foundation, the Family Fitness Trail is the first in a planned series of new privately funded recreational amenities and improvement projects in various St. Louis County Parks to be built by the St. Louis County Parks Foundation through partnerships with corporations, non-profit organizations and individuals. The St. Louis County Parks Foundation is a public/private partnership started in 2015 to better connect people to their parks and bridge the gap between the public funds available and the additional money needed to care for, restore and enhance all St. Louis County parks.
“We are extremely grateful to the Gateway Foundation and our other donors for making this possible,” Ohlendorf added.
The Foundation plans is currently raising funds for the construction of two additional family fitness trails at St. Louis County Parks in South County and West County in the coming year. Trails were identified as the top priority for new investment in the County’s parks by residents surveyed in the Vision 2030 Master Plan currently being developed by St. Louis County Parks.
The St. Louis County Parks Foundation works with the St. Louis County Parks Department to identify the park system’s needs and opportunities, and then coordinates the fundraising, purchasing and project oversight necessary to build new amenities that will improve these parks. The Foundation’s first project was the installation of a large new fountain at Tilles Park in 2015. Today more than $71,000 has been committed from five private foundations for additional park projects.
“We have 71 parks and more than 12,700 acres of parks to maintain with limited funding,” said Gary Bess, Director of St. Louis County Parks.” “The Foundation is focused on improving our parks while we focus on maintaining them. They are a true and valued partner with us.”
Spanish Lake Park is located at 12500 Spanish Pond Road in Spanish Lake. It features two lakes, a series of hiking and biking trails, two playgrounds, tennis courts and other recreational amenities. For more information on the St. Louis County Parks Foundation, visit www.stlcountyparksfoundation.org.