Byron gets grant for park
Residents from Byron and surrounding area with physical disabilities will soon have a safe place to play thanks to two grants worth $175,000 that the city of Byron was recently awarded.
The majority of the grant money, $100,000, came from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), while the other $75,000 came from the Otto Bremer Trust.
Community Development Planner Janna Monosmith said the DNR provides an annual grant opportunity for cities to apply for funds for playgrounds, bike trails, and different outdoor activities.
She added that Byron had been applying for that grant for the past few years.
“That grant is for the all-inclusive playground, picnic shelter, and the trails connecting the picnic shelter and the playground,” Monosmith said. “Then, after we had submitted it and receive the information that we had been awarded the grant from the DNR, we realized we had inadvertently not budgeted enough money for grading.”
She said the Otto Bremer Trust suggested the city of Byron revise its application to include what they had forgotten.
“That’s what Otto Bremer is helping us with – the grading for the site and we also added electricity to the picnic shelter,” said Monosmith.
These improvements would benefit the same park, East Brookfield Park, that Byron Lions Club raised over $60,000 for through Brrr Fest, Byron’s annual holiday carnival.
“It’s a joint effort between the Byron Lions Club, the city of Byron, and now the DNR and Otto Bremer. We’re all working together for this inclusive playground,” she said.
That team effort is critical as the cost for the various park improvements adds up quickly.
“Including the grading, the rubberized surface, the installation of the actual playset, and the installation of the picnic shelter when you add everything together it costs $350,000, so we need that much help to make this happen,” said Monosmith.
With the $175,000 from the two grants and at least $60,000 from the Lions Club the joint effort is over two-thirds of the way to their $350,00 cost.
“It gets us a lot closer. It just makes it easier to get it accomplished because everyone’s taking a smaller piece of the pie,” she said. “We would never be able to do it if there wasn’t help out there.”
She mentioned that the financial support enables them to fill two city needs.
“That neighborhood out there doesn’t have a park at all and we felt the city needed some kind of inclusive park area,” she said.
Another benefit of the all-inclusive park, Monosmith said, is that it will complement the Byron Community Recreation Complex.
“With the new ball complex out there we know that we’re going to need a picnic shelter. We know that we’re going to have a lot of people come in from outside the community that will also use the playset because they’ll be there watching ball games,” she said. “It’s kind of an all-inclusive area for physical abilities, but it’s also an all-inclusive area for not just the local neighborhood park, the whole community as well as visitors that are here for ball games.”
She said they were initially hoping to have construction begin in the spring, but they’re now waiting on a new engineer to do plans and specifications so she’s not sure when construction will start.