Blazing a new trail
A new $125,000 Family Trial is under construction in Spanish Lake Park thanks to the efforts of the St. Louis County Parks Foundation
By Charlotte Beard
This summer, residents in the surrounding areas of Spanish Lake Park will have the enjoyment of a new 1.4-mile Family Trail worth $125,000. The trail, which will engage children with play opportunities and adults with exercise equipment, is the brain child of the St. Louis County Parks Foundation (SLCPF).
There will be four “pods” (playgrounds) spaced out along the trail. The playground equipment will be geared specifically towards younger children and older children. The idea is that when the child has enough play-time, or their attention is turned away from that activity they can continue down the trail with their parents until they reach the next pod.
Mark Ohlendorf, President of SLCPF stated, “They are always moving and we’re combining walking with the playground [activity]. We will have exercise equipment for the adults, so they can get a little workout while they are working the kids out. And we will have a bench for [older adults]. It’s just a way for the whole family to go out. We noticed [we’d] see one person, or two people walking together but you never see the whole family group walking. This is [an attempt] to bring the whole family together to get out and get some exercise on a pretty day.”
The exercise equipment will be various stationary equipment such as used for pull-ups and sit-ups. There will be two pieces of exercise equipment at each playground pod. The plan is to have three-to-four pieces of playground equipment for children at each pod. Ohlendorf shared that there will be ample stationary things for children to climb on. The children’s animal climbing structures will be along the same lines as what is provided in Turtle Park near the St. Louis Zoo. Visitors can also expect to see educational signs along the trail as well to give nature related facts and information.
“The project is $125,000,” stated Ohlendorf. “We have to start from scratch—do the concrete pads, install the equipment and put a rubberized surface on each pad so the children don’t hurt themselves.”
The Gateway Foundation contributed $50,000 to SLCPF to kick-off the Family Trail project. Gateway’s mission is to enrich St. Louis life and culture by supporting efforts to acquire, create and improve tangible and durable art and urban design. SLCPF campaigned to raise the remaining funds from groups as well as individuals. Commerce Bank’s headquarters is one of the other major supporters mentioned by Ohlendorf; they provided funds to help purchase playground equipment. Ohlendorf credits Cynthia Crim, Foundation Grants Manager at Commerce for major support of SLCPF’s overall efforts and initiatives.
A bonus to the project is the construction of a fountain.
“Dan Brown from Brown & Brown Law Firm gave us money to build a fountain here,” shared Ohlendorf. “So, we’re going to put a fountain here in Spanish Lake and it’s going to be gorgeous. [Dan] and his brother grew up in this area, so they still come [here] and go to different functions once and a while. He’s real excited [about the project].”
Due to the weather, clearing of the grounds began in April and the project is expected to be completed in early summer. Ohlendorf stated that for the grand opening they would like to have a Saturday morning family walk that would also include the community presence of the Spanish Lake police. Families would be invited to bring picnic baskets of food if they desired. Plans for the official opening will be announced on a later date.
The Family Trail in Spanish Lake Park is not SLCPF’s first project. In 2015, the same year the nonprofit launched, they became responsible for the installation of a large new fountain at Tilles Park. Two of the other past accomplishments shared by Ohlendorf were projects for the construction of shade structures for pool areas at the Pavilion at Lemay in Jefferson Barraks Park and the provision of a curtain divider for the North County Recreation Center in Spanish Lake. The recreation center needed to have their gym divided to accommodate both boys’ and girls’ basketball activities. Emerson provided $10,000 to fund that need.
“We just asked,” stated Ohlendorf, “and they said, ‘sure we’d love to do it, we’d love to help.’ Those are the kind of things the county doesn’t have money for.”
Gary Bess, Director of St. Louis County Parks shared, “This foundation can provide the funds to help make our dreams a reality. We have 71 parks and more than 12,700 acres of parks to maintain with limited funding. The foundation is focused on improving our parks while we focus on maintaining them. They are a true and valued partner with us.”
For more information on the SLCPF, visit www.stlcountyparksfoundation.org.
CUTLINE: Cover-Trail 1-2 Photos by Charlotte Beard Spanish Lake Park will be the site of a new 1.4-mile Family Trail worth $125,000. The trail will engage children with play opportunities and adults with exercise equipment.
Cover-Trail3 Submitted image