Pritzker announces $30.3 million in grants for 87 local park projects
The grants are through the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program, administered by DNR. OSLAD grants can provide up to one-half of a project’s funds. In 2022, when combined with the investment of local matching funds, OSLAD grants will support more than $56 million in local park development projects and land acquisitions statewide.
The OSLAD Program is a state grant program that receives dedicated funding from a percentage of Illinois’s Real Estate Transfer Tax. This funding source is essential for sportsmen and women to understand. Complaints often occur that “sportsmen’s dollars” are being used to build bike trails, splash parks, skate parks, or other non-consumptive recreational facilities. In terms of OSLAD funding, it is not sportspeople’s dollars, fees, etc., being used. But instead, OSLAD receives dedicated funding from the state Real Estate Transfer Tax.
The other complaint often voiced by critics of the OSLAD program is that grant recipients are disproportionately urban and located in the northern third of the state. Those critics need to understand that grants can only be awarded if an application is submitted. Many small rural downstate Illinois communities could benefit from this funding. However, those local government units simply don’t apply or have no good way to fund any required matching funds. It’s also important to understand that community groups, friends groups, concerned citizens, etc., aren’t eligible to apply. The OSLAD program provides funding assistance to local government agencies for land acquisition and development of public parks and open spaces.
Projects that benefit from OSLAD grants vary widely from small neighborhood parks to large community or county parks and natural areas.
The OSLAD program provides funding assistance for up to 50% (90% for distressed communities) of project costs. Grant awards up to $750,000 are available for land acquisition projects, while development/renovation projects are limited to a $400,000 grant maximum.
Who can receive OSLAD funds?
According to the DNR Grant website, “OSLAD grants are available to units of local government that are authorized by Illinois law to expend public funds for the acquisition and development of land for public indoor/outdoor park, recreation, or conservation purposes.“
It’s worth noting that school districts are not considered eligible for OSLAD funding.