Kenosha receives park grants and ASLA award
At tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, the city of Kenosha received a ton of good news.
Jim Richie, Southeast Region Grants and Loans Team Leader, from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), provided information on six grants that have been awarded to the city of Kenosha, totalling $730,791. “These are very competitive grant programs,” said Richie. Shelley Billingsley, director of engineering, was praised for her efforts in preparing these grant applications. All of the six grants that were applied for were awarded for funding. The parks receiving funding include Sunrise, Shagbark, Strawberry Creek, Poerio, Simmons Island, and Southport. (Click here to see a chart outlining the projects and monies awarded: 2011 DNR Grant Applications.) Grants for the last two, Simmons Island and Southport, require archeological investigations before the awards can officially be made.
Past grants which have been received were for the Poerio Park roadway development in 1995, the nine acres of Poerio Park expansion in 2006, and the Strawberry Creek Park acquisition in 2009. All of these projects have been completed. Mayor Keith Bosman commented that “this is no drop in the bucket. These are now called grants; they used to be called earmarks.” Chairman of the Park Commission, Michael Orth, stated that he was “very impressed with the number. In one year, we were awarded more grants than in the last fifteen years. This shows our commitment to Kenosha’s parks. We have Shelley to thank, Jeff Warnock, the Mayor’s Office, and Blake Thiesen, from SAA Design Group, Inc., the consultant who assisted the city of Kenosha in preparing the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans (CORP). Without outside assistance, we wouldn’t be able to bring our dreams to fruition. This is exciting stuff. We hope you’ll come back and walk our trails,” Orth said to Richie.
Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia stated, “This is phenomenal.” He thanked all involved. “Two of these projects are in my district. We’re going to be able to put shovels in the ground very soon.”
Thiesen then continued “the feel good vibe” by presenting a framed award placque from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for Kenosha’s park plan. With the city’s permission, SAA Design Group applied for the award. “This award has some stiff competition at the national award. We are pleased to take top honors,” said Thiesen.
Bosman commended Billingsley for how much work she put in on all the plans. “This is a very high honor. It keeps our plans on track.” Billingsley thanked everyone involved from the Parks Department and the Commission for allowing the opportunity to apply for the award.
Orth thanked Jeff Warnock, parks superintendent, for his leadership. “We made a new start. The parks were neglected. Recently, we’ve cut costs, reduced staff and went to work.” LaMacchia echoed Orth’s sentiments.