ROCK ISLAND, Illinois- The Rock Island Parks and Recreation Department is hard at work refurbishing Douglas Park. The park already has a history as a legendary sports center. In 1920 the first NFL game was played in Douglas Park. Today renovations aim to transform the park into a modernized recreation center.
The Parks and Recreation Department has already completed many projects in Douglas Park. Visitors will see a new large ball field with turf, irrigation, dugouts, fencing and scoreboard. There is also a new concession stand and press box, a new parking lot, a new lighted playground, and more seating. The fence surrounding the park was removed to make the park feel more open and inviting.
The work isn't finished yet. The Parks and Recreation Department plans a youth ball field project for youth baseball, soccer and flag football. The high end field will have new turf, irrigation, bleachers, fencing, dugouts, drinking fountains, walkways, and refurbished bathrooms.
The Parks and Recreation Department also will add a multi-sport field for football, soccer, baseball, and softball. Plus, the project aims to make the park handicap accessible.
The Department will be using its scholarship fund and working with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to provide sports programming for underserved youth at Douglas Park. Both fields will also be available for rental for other organizations.
The park's refurbishment came from multiple grants. The $300,000 youth ball project came from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Rock Island Parks and Recreation, and a large donation from Gerry Huiskamp. An additional $250,000 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust will go toward the construction of the multi-use sport field.
John Gripp, Director of Rock Island Parks and Recreation says, “This historic park is being restored and it’s great to see the community enjoying it. We still need to raise more funds to fully complete the multi use sport field as well as the last phase of the Douglas Park Project which will be installing lighting on all fields and the parking lot, replacing exterior sidewalks, refurbishing the old firehouse into a youth learning center, and signage along 18th Avenue."
Gripp stated work on the park should be done within the next two years.