Charleston and Mattoon are adding great things to each community that will benefit both local residents and visitors.

We applaud these projects and the people powering them.

In Charleston last month, the city council agreed to work with Charleston Township toward building a community center that has been under discussion for years.

The township will provide $400,000 to fund the initial groundwork it will take to eventually construct the building on acreage the city purchased almost a year ago, the JG-TC reported. In July, the City of Charleston acquired almost 40 acres of land from the First Christian Church for $458,000.

Plans approved by the city state that the community center will provide “indoor recreational and social opportunities for the citizens.”

Although that project is in its early stages, other efforts to beautify Charleston and provide recreational opportunities are in full swing.

The system of trails around Lake Charleston is in place and utilized daily by hikers and bikers. The trails wind their way along the lake shore, through the woods, from flatlands to the hills that overlook the water. One of the trail heads is at Sister City Park, where a sculpture walk is in the works.

Three industrial metalwork sculptures that stood on Eastern Illinois University's campus, along with a few other places, have found a more permanent home at the entrance to Sister City Park, at least for a one-year period. Joining them recently is a newly finished sculpture, made from corten steel, which gives the piece a rust-like appearance, that city officials last month agreed to place at the park.

The sculpture collection project is sure to enhance the area for residents and visitors alike.

Mattoon's latest community effort is near completion.

Downtown, Heritage Park, a project that is a partnership between the city and the Lumpkin Family Foundation, has taken shape and will be dedicated at 1 p.m. June 10 during Mattoon Artworks. It is located at the southwest corner of Broadway Avenue and 17th Street.

As the JG-TC has reported, land for the 1.4-acre park was donated to the city by Richard Lumpkin, and the Lumpkin Family Foundation provided $800,000 for the design and construction work. The city will maintain the site.

The park includes sidewalks, a wooden boardwalk, stone landscaping, a covered performance area, stream-like water feature, benches, trees and more.

This is truly a community effort, from its creation to the volunteers who have helped plant vegetation at various spots on the land.

Lumpkin Family Foundation Executive Director Bruce Karmazin said Heritage Park fits well with the foundation's mission, which includes supporting long-lasting improvements in health, as the JG-TC has reported.

Already, the weekly Lunch & Music series is underway every Friday this summer at Heritage Park. Artworks activities will take place there next Saturday.

This is a win-win for the community -- a place for residents to enjoy and for visitors, also, to appreciate as they await a train at the depot across the street, or shop downtown Mattoon.

Hats off to all those who made Heritage Park possible, and to those beautifying Charleston as well. These are just the kinds of things that our communities need, now and in the future.

So get out there and enjoy them!

-- JG-TC Editorial Board

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