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Pickleball Included in upgrade at Springfield parks

Pickleball Included in upgrade at Springfield parks: Summer in Springfield is the apex of park enjoyment, yet beneath the surface of public view lies a bustling effort to uphold the pristine condition of our green spaces. The Springfield Park District shoulders the responsibility of managing 36 parks, 23 miles of scenic bike trails, over 20 recreation facilities, and 322 acres of preserved natural landscapes.

Leslie Sgro, president of the Springfield Park District board, describes their current workload as a delicate juggling act: maintaining, refurbishing, and innovating amidst historical precedence. Established in 1900, underscoring the ongoing financial commitments required to modernize aging infrastructures such as Nelson Center’s ice rink refrigeration and Washington Park Botanical Garden’s dome and HVAC systems. “We have a very full plate of things we’re doing now” she affirms.

Pickleball Drives Park Expansion and Community Engagement

Hot on the heels of tennis, pickleball has risen in popularity, becoming the fastest-growing sport in America, according to the Association of Pickleball Professionals. The demand in Springfield has grown so much that additional courts are now necessary.

Dave Marsh, a semi-retired lobbyist, Springfield resident, and avid pickleball player, discovered that the Springfield Pickleball Club was seeking funds for new courts. He volunteered to lobby for the club and collaborated with State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, who sponsored the appropriation, and State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, who cosponsored it. Their efforts resulted in more than $1 million being earmarked for new pickleball courts at Centennial Park and the renovation of existing courts at Iles Park.

“It is incredible to me and so rewarding to work with our partners and make wonderful things happen as we balance between what the older facilities need and the new things like pickleball courts, it’s a process. It’s always hard when we have millions of dollars of need, and that’s why partnerships are so important to us,”

– ( Leslie Sgro )

Beyond essential upgrades, significant investments have been directed towards enhancing recreational offerings. Generous state grants have recently revitalized Iles Park, injecting new life into its amenities including walking paths, field upgrades, modernized facilities, and a state-of-the-art playground nearing completion. “We’re also spending money on some fun things. We’ve received several state grants over the last five years that enabled us to do the overhaul of Iles Park,” Sgro adds. “It gives me great joy seeing people use the parks after improvements have been made.

Furthering their commitment to community enrichment, the Park District secured a $600,000 grant to transform the aged Veterans Memorial Pool at Gielt Park into a sprawling splash pad, set to dwarf neighboring facilities in size and creativity. Despite its closure for demolition this season, plans for an interactive experience tailored for all ages are underway, promising an exciting addition to Springfield’s recreational landscape.

Pickleball Included in upgrade at Springfield parks

Transformative Partnerships: Enhancing Parks and Zoo

The Henson Robinson Zoo is preparing to unveil a new exhibit in the building that houses the lemurs and langurs. According to Leslie Sgro, president of the Springfield Park District board, this building was once in complete disrepair. Now, it has been transformed into a functional structure that provides habitats for the animals. Sgro highlighted this as another example of why partnerships are crucial for the Springfield Park District, enabling the completion of such projects.

Sgro explained that for each grant received, the Springfield Park District must provide matching funds. These grants come from various sources, including the state, local organizations, and private donors. Additionally, some individuals leave money to the Park District in their wills.

Collaboration remains pivotal to the District’s successes, with partnerships amplifying their impact. “We have amazing people and groups in our community who support our parks, when we partner up, we’re able to do so much more. I love our parks, and I’m grateful that the community and donors trust us to make the necessary improvements for the benefit of everyone who visits our parks.”  Sgro remarks, highlighting recent anonymous contributions and collaborative efforts like the McDrew Tennis & Jazz Festival’s substantial donation for Washington Park’s tennis court renovations.

Donor Boosts Springfield Park District with Significant Grants

Leslie Sgro mentioned that the Springfield Park District recently received multiple grants from a private donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The first grant was $100,000, followed by a recent donation of $80,000. The donor specified that the $80,000 be allocated to Lindbergh and Indian Hills parks, with each park receiving $40,000 plus matching funds from the district for new play systems. Sgro hopes these projects will be completed by the fall, though the district is currently busy with multiple initiatives.
Pickleball Included in upgrade at Springfield parks
News in Brief: Pickleball Included in upgrade at Springfield parks
The Springfield Park District, manages 36 parks, 23 miles of bike trails, and numerous recreational facilities across 322 acres. Led by Leslie Sgro, the district balances modernization efforts, including upgrading aging infrastructure like Nelson Center and Washington Park Botanical Garden, with expanding recreational offerings like new pickleball courts. Recent state grants revitalized Iles Park and funded a transformative splash pad at Veterans Memorial Pool. Partnerships are crucial, enabling projects such as a new zoo exhibit and extensive park renovations. Anonymous donations, including $180,000 for Lindbergh and Indian Hills parks, highlight community support amid ongoing initiatives and improvements.


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