State grant will help pay for improvements at Waiola Park in La Grange

It’s the park where couples enjoy a stroll and children learn to ride their bikes along the pathways and soon it will be even better thanks to a matching grant awarded to the Park District of La Grange.

The park district received confirmation in January that it will receive a matching grant of $600,000 from the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Grant managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The funding will be used for the planned improvements at Waiola Park, said Jenny Bechtold, the park district’s executive director.

“It’s a very important program for us because we do have limited funding and a limited budget,” Bechtold said.

The park district plans to make updates to the park and sought the grant to expand the number of upgrades. Last summer, park district staff hosted community meetings for feedback on the plans, which was part of the grant application process.

Among the upgrades are a new, more accessible playground, adding a shelter, widening the walking path, regrading the soccer field, improving the T-ball fields and adding fitness stations, Bechtold said.

“The grant is definitely very helpful in allowing us to do more in the park than we otherwise would have been able to do,” she said.

Later this spring park district staff will proceed with design plans and seek bids for the work with the aim of making improvements in spring 2025.

Located along 47th Street between Waiola and Stone avenues, the park is used for community events as well as enjoyed as a neighborhood park, Bechtold said.

“It’s a great location,” she said.