First in series of new privately funded recreational amenities planned for St. Louis County Parks System
A new 1.4 mile, $125,000 family fitness trail being added to Spanish Lake Park in North St. Louis County is the first in a planned series of new privately funded recreational amenities and improvement projects to be built by the St. Louis County Parks Foundation through partnerships with corporations, non-profit organizations and individuals. Funded in part by a $50,000 grant from the Gateway Foundation, the Family Trail at Spanish Lake Park will feature four separate educational and nature-themed ‘pods’ including children’s animal climbing structures along the same lines as Turtle Park near the St. Louis Zoo, and will also include adult exercise equipment, children’s play stations, benches and new landscaping linked by an existing 1.4 mile paved trail. Construction and installation of the new pods, equipment and landscaping at The Family Trail is now underway, and a grand opening is planned for early summer.
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. The Foundations plans to begin construction of two additional family fitness trails at St. Louis County Parks in South County and West County later this 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 inviting design of this new Family Fitness Trail will encourage outdoor exercise and active play that the entire family can enjoy at the same time, with children leading their adult and other playmates from pocket to pocket and keeping the entire family moving 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 and safety of the park. We are extremely grateful to the Gateway Foundation and our other donors for making this possible.”
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 see ourselves as the Forest Park Forever of the St. Louis County Parks system,” Ohlendorf says. “We have a big job ahead of us and are gaining momentum. I am very optimistic about what the future holds for the Foundation, the County Parks and the public’s enjoyment of these treasures.”
“This Foundation can provide the funds to help make our dreams a reality,” said Gary Bess, Director of St. Louis County Parks. “We have 71 parks and more than 12,700 acres of parks to maintain with limited funding. The Foundation is focused on improving our parks while we focus on maintaining them. They are a true and valued partner with us.”
For more information on the St. Louis County Parks Foundation, visit www.stlcountyparksfoundation.org.