Inclusive playground, picnic shelter, trail planned for Algonquin’s Towne Park

Algonquin awarded $600K grant to revamp the ‘heart of the village’

A bridge over Crystal Creek in Towne Park, looking north towards Rt. 31. The Algonquin Historic Commission will be discussing renovations to the historic mineral springs are along the creek as part of potential park renovations that could be finalized as early as June, city planners said.

Looking to spruce up Towne Park, the village of Algonquin recently earned a $600,000 grant from the state of Illinois.

The Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant will help supplement the cost of an estimated $4.3 million worth of upgrades and renovations planned for the 7.6-acre park at 100 Jefferson St. in Algonquin.

“This is big news,” Recreation Superintendent Katie Gock said of the funding. “There’s going to be a lot of work coming up here in the next two years.”

The first phase of improvements at the park – tentatively set to begin in 2024 – will include an inclusive playground, picnic shelter, looped trail with an accessible connection to all improvements, ping pong table, chessboard picnic tables, scenic overlooks, and permeable and memorial paver areas.

A mineral springs site, located on the southwest end of the park along Crystal Creek, is a historic water source for both Native Americans in the region and the original settlement of Algonquin.

Recognizing the significance of both the park’s location and history, the idea is to create a recreation hub for the village, Gock said.

A concept plan from March 2022 for the overall Towne Park in Algonquin. City planners are hoping to finalize a master plan to renovate the site by June of this year, which will include highlighting portions of the site deemed historic, such as the mineral springs.

“Towne Park is the heart of the village,” she said, adding that it also serves as a central place for community events, including the village’s concert series.

“We’re really excited because we will have a new space that can be that next big destination where generations of families and kids can come and play and remember it,” she said.

The village’s project was among 118 park projects throughout Illinois awarded about $60 million in OSLAD grants.

The grants represent the largest round of OSLAD grants in the 36-year history of the program, designed to help communities fund land acquisition and development for parks and outdoor recreation projects, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The OSLAD program is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and can provide up to one-half of a project’s funds to support local park development projects and land acquisitions statewide. Since 2020, Algonquin has secured $1.4 million of OSLAD funding for improvements to Algonquin’s park system, according to a village news release.

The village has a two-year window of time for the portion of the work funded by the most recent grant to be completed, Gock said.

Along with the first phase of the project, a second phase calls for an embankment play area, a renovated restroom building, a new restroom building and picnic shelter, a new bandshell and a riverwalk connection. Gock said she also expects that phase to begin in 2024.

The playground in Algonquin's Towne Park, looking north towards Rt. 31. The Algonquin Historic Commission will be discussing renovations to the historic mineral springs are along the creek as part of potential park renovations that could be finalized as early as June, city planners said.

“It’s really going to be a nice, complete picture in the downtown area,” she said. “It’s exciting to be on the ground level of this type of project.”

Village leaders said Towne Park was identified as a priority park improvement site by residents and stakeholders in the village’s Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan, adopted in 2021.

Volunteers helped build the park’s current wooden play area, and generations of families have used it, Gock said. She envisions more generations enjoying the park in the future.

“With the reconstruction of Towne Park, we are not only creating a new gathering space, but also preserving the memories and experiences that make it a special place for our community,” Village President Debby Sosine said in a prepared statement. “The Village Board’s unwavering leadership and commitment to fiscally responsible park improvement was essential to make the vision for Towne Park a reality.”

Village officials continue to determine funding options for the entire Towne Park plan and have said those options would be finalized as part of the village’s capital improvement plan later in the fall.