We recently announced a donation of land to the County that is key to completing the Dardenne Greenway. For those of you who don’t know, the Dardenne Greenway is one of many greenways in the region overseen by Great Rivers Greenway, which is working to connect communities together through parks, trails, and open spaces.
This donation of 11.13 acres was given by St. Charles County resident Mark Keeven. The property, which includes a lake, is located on Highway K, bordered by Lou Fusz properties and adjacent to the O’Fallon Sports Park. The land is part of a 2.2-mile stretch that is needed to complete a 17-mile portion of the Greenway between I-64 and I-70.
The donation reminded me of how fortunate the County has been over the years to receive donations of property that we can use as parkland. While a local use tax with the sole purpose of park land acquisition, development, operations and maintenance, approved by voters in 1997, enables the County Parks and Recreation Department to purchase available land, donations help us to expand our mission even further.
For example, a donation in 2001 by the late Betty Towne resulted in the 109-acre Towne Park that features a reconstructed 1800s historical homestead as well as paved and natural trails, a large fishing pond, picnic areas, a forest-themed playground and a series of interlinked scenic rain gardens. This park is located at 100 Towne Park Drive in Foristell.
Two land donations are included in the 409-acre Park at New Melle Lakes. In 2009, David and Mary Ann Wolk donated 67 acres of land that borders the former golf course purchased by the County. In 2017, the Apted-Hulling family donated 8 acres adjacent to the Landhaus event venue and additional land the County purchased. Today, this park has a premier 18-hole champion disc golf course; trails for walking, hiking and biking; a 25-acre lake for non-motorized boats; multiple smaller lakes and ponds for fishing and picnic shelters. Plans are being made for a dog park, playground and camping areas. The park is located at 400 Foristell Road in New Melle.
In 2013, Lincoln County donated three acres of land to St. Charles County for what is now called Flatwoods Park, located near the Lincoln-St. Charles county line. The park opened in 2019 and features a launching area for canoes and kayaks to access the Cuivre River. It is off Highway 79, at 2420 Highway Y in O’Fallon.
Several Life Estate donations have been made to the Parks Department as well, and we are grateful that our parkland will continue to grow well into the future through these gifts. As a comparatively young parks system that began in 1997 with the use tax, our growth is exciting. We have 17 open parks with four in reserve for a total of 4,157 acres. Everyone who has had a part in that growth through their generous donations deserves a big thank you!
I encourage you to visit your parks and find out all they have to offer. Visit stccparks.org for details on each park and activities throughout the year.