For over five years, the City of Osceola has been developing their Safe Routes to School program as well as making extensive updates to the area’s trail systems to provide healthier activity options and easier access to schools, parks, and the best the City has to offer. Early in 2018, as a special addition to the growing trails network, a parcel of land in the northeast corner of town was acquired for the development of a state-of-the-art, handicap-accessible park. With the recent addition of a Dekko Foundation grant, recognized at the August 7th Osceola City Council Meeting, the funding for the park’s $458,000 price tag is happening quicker than expected. While the $50,000 grant is a huge boost to the program, there is a catch. The Dekko Foundation grant is submitted as a matching fund grant, and will only match monies received through donations. So, to realize the full amount, the City now needs to generate donations to receive the full grant amount.
“We have an opportunity to provide one of the only handicap accessible parks south-central Iowa,” said Osceola’s mayor, Thomas Kedley. “The funding for this project will go a long way toward making sure we are providing a better quality of life for everyone.”
The Clay Street Park will be a much-needed addition to the Safe Routes to School program, not only providing park access for the northeast part of the city, but also providing unique educational opportunities and access for special-needs children and adults. While Q-Pond and East Lake parks have some handicap-inclusive designs, the Clay Street Park is designed and will be built to cater specifically to offering educational stimulation for kids and unfettered access for special-needs individuals. The unique playground surface will provide safe, easy access for wheelchairs and walkers while the custom-designed equipment will allow access for individuals of all capability levels.
“This is a big part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan,” said Ty Wheeler, Osceola’s City Administrator. “Giving each sector in the city dedicated park access and activity options is important for the future of the community.”
To date, with money received from Wellmark, IDNR, Kading Properties, Schildberg, Operation Recreation, CCOPS, the CCDC, and Alliant Energy, the funding for Clay Street Park construction has reached over $243,000. With the Dekko Foundation grant and the funds intended to match, funds would jump by $100,000 pushing to just under 75% of the total budget needed. That would be a promising step toward their goal of breaking ground in the spring of 2020.
The City intends to start construction only when the funds are in place to fully finance the project. So they are making a call to the community and local businesses to help with donations to reach their goal. Every dollar donated toward the Clay Street Park program will be matched by the Dekko Foundation grant, up to the $50,000 cap.
“Clay Street Park is going to be a diamond feature for our city,” said Kedley. “And we’re determined to make it happen.”