Openlands Helps Make Grandmother Park a Reality

August 14, 2013

Openlands is committed to protecting open space and providing access to healthy outdoor recreation where people live. Sometimes this means helping with a much-needed tot lot in an underserved area.

Five years ago, a small group of residents asked the City of Evanston to create a tot lot in their neighborhood. The diverse neighborhood has many families with young children, but it is cut off from other playground options by busy streets with no stoplights. The City of Evanston’s response was that there were no funds for new parks, but if the group could raise the funds to buy the land and purchase and install the equipment, the City would accept the park as a donation.

The residents formed a non-profit group, Grandmother Park Initiative, and identified a centrally located, bank-owned parcel that was available for $70,000. Members of the initiative learned about Openlands' land acquisition services and asked Openlands to support the project by purchasing the property on their behalf to secure it during the fundraising effort. The Openlands Board looked beyond the traditional business model and took a risk by agreeing to assist this new non-profit group on the strength of their commitment and the clear value of the cause.

Openlands had been holding the property since 2010, but on August 7, the property was transferred to the City of Evanston to become the new Grandmother Park. Grandmother Park Initiative has successfully raised $250,000 in three years predominantly through bake sales, garage sales, and over 300 individual donations. The project also received a varity of small grants from local businesses and foundations in addtion to larger grants from Safeway/Dominicks Foods, Boeing Employees Community Fund, and the City of Evanston.

Soon Grandmother Park will be a place for children to play, grow, and learn thanks to the vision and determination of a small group of committed citizens.


Note: This article has been updated to clarify the range of contributions Grandmother Park Initiative has received.

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