MATTOON — Grants have been awarded to help create a dog park, install two new playgrounds, and enhance two trail systems in Mattoon.
Representatives of the Mattoon Community Trust presented a total of $20,000 in grant funding to these five parks and recreation projects on Tuesday at the office of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, which administers this trust.
Chamber Executive Director Ed Dowd said the trust was established with $150,000 bequeathed from the estate of local philanthropist Carrie Young for the betterment of Mattoon.
Dowd said interest accrued from Young's initial donation has enabled the trust to distribute $697,000 in grant funding since its inception in 1984. He said the trust has helped a variety of community projects over the years, particularly regarding parkland.
"Carrie Young had a special place in her heart for parks and recreation," Dowd said.
The Community Trust screening committee reviewed 13 applications and selected four past recipients for grants this year — the Mattoon Kiwanis Club, Mattoon Community Dog Park Fund Advisory Committee, Mattoon Rotary Club, and Douglas-Hart Foundation.
A grant also was awarded to a new recipient: the Mattoon in Motion community planning effort.
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Kiwanis received $6,450 to help fund a new playground and other improvements at Cunningham Park at the northwest corner of Champaign Avenue and 12th Street. Deeded to the city in 1855, Cunningham is the oldest city park.
The Dog Park Fund Advisory Committee received $5,450 as part of its fund raising to develop a dog park on 8 acres of city land located off of south 12th Street, behind Williams Elementary School. This park will include separate areas for large and small dogs.
Rotary received $3,450 for the completion of playground equipment and landscaping around the new Lake Mattoon beach pavilion. Rotary has been partnering with the Friends of Lake Mattoon on this project.
The Douglas-Hart Foundation received $2,450 for a new project along the trail system at its 65-acre nature center site at 2204 DeWitt Avenue East.
Land Stewardship Director Marissa Grant said the nature center plans to remove ash trees that are being destroyed by the emerald ash bore beetle. She said they intend to leave four of the tree stumps in place so that they can be repurposed with decorative carvings.
Mattoon in Motion received $2,200 for a new project involving the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail that runs from Mattoon to Charleston along former railroad right of way.
Carlos Ortega, executive director of the Cross County Innovation Center, said they plan to create butterfly habitat and do beautification work along approximately 1 square mile of the trail in Mattoon. The two cities plan to pave the rural section of the trail, which has a gravel surface.