When Lyons area residents look at our still-decimated parks, it is easy to get discouraged and become impatient. For as much work has been completed in river restoration as well as major progress being made in Meadow Park, a walk by Bohn Park tells the story of the long wait ahead. As spring approaches, local kids and adults want to know when Bohn Park will be open, when there will be a place for river front picnics, or when we’ll have public baseball fields.
The Lyons Community Foundation has recently awarded a $14,460 grant to the Town of Lyons Parks and Recreation Department to assist in rebuilding efforts in Bohn Park. The award epitomizes the teamwork and group efforts that are working to try and make a dent in the estimated $25 million in damages the floods wreaked on our parks and trails. While it might be a ‘drop in the bucket’ towards the massive amount of cleanup and rebuilding ahead, a few local residents have made their impact felt through the LCF Rebuild Lyons Fund.
In April of 2014, local resident Stephanie Kurland ran the Boston Marathon and raised money in an effort to rebuild the trails she so loves. An avid runner, she saw the opportunity to spread the message of hope and resiliency and raised over $3400 for Lyons parks and trails in the process. “I couldn’t think of a better place to run for Lyons than in Boston,” said Stephanie just before her big race. “Both of our communities went through a profound tragedy in 2013 and this was my way to show my support for Boston while raising money for Lyons. Boston Strong. Lyons Strong.” The race occurred on the first year anniversary of the bombing of the Boston Marathon that injured more than 260 people. By using a Crowdfunding site to tell the “flood story” of Lyons, Stephanie was able to garner support from friends and family from around the country. Members of the Lyons High School Cross Country Team and Lyons High School Video Production team helped her make the video that was on her fundraising website.
The fruits of another Lyons project also contributed to the grant allocated for parks and trail repair. The Lyons High School Photography club, led by teacher Stephanie Busby, donated the roughly $10,000 they raised by selling their book that documented the floods. Produced in early 2014, the photographic journal of the flood experience was put together by Busby’s photography students and artist in residence Robert Campagna. In it, students shared personal stories and a photographic documentation of their own experiences though the epic shared events of September 2013.
The remaining portion of the grant awarded to the Parks and Recreation Department came from a private donation from a local citizen, Wendell Walker. A resident of Lyons Valley Park, Wendell reflects on the sentiment of many locals, “I feel it is very important for the Town of Lyons to get back to where it was before the flood.” It really demonstrates that every little bit counts and individuals can collectively make a difference.
It’s easy to feel like progress is slow, or that rebuilding is so monumental that people can’t make a difference. In this case, the Lyons Community Foundation was able to pool together a variety of resources to make a bigger impact. That inherently, is what the foundation does. Says long-time LCF Advisory Board member Debbie Simms, “because LCF is uniquely positioned as a channel for directing local philanthropic efforts, we are able to make an impact, even if it’s one section of one park at a time. Two and half years later, we can look at the glass half empty in terms of the amount of work to be done, or we can measure our small successes in what we are able to accomplish”.
There is light at the end of the tunnel for our parks and trails. Dave Cosgrove, Director of Parks and Recreation, reports that the work in Meadow is in full swing and on track to open to the public by July 1 of this year. For Bohn Park, it is anticipated that the final design and bid process will take place from March 2016 through July 2016. The Town intends to put the project out to bid for construction in July/August 2016 in order to award a contract for construction to begin no later than October of 2016. It is the intention that Bohn Park will be open to the public by end of summer 2017. An initial conceptual plan for Bohn Park is available by PDF-Bohn Park Flood Recovery Planning Process Plan at www.lyonsparksmp.com.
Rebuild Lyons continues to support Lyons recovery. In 2015, over $95,000 was awarded to the ongoing efforts to rebuild and recover. LCF will continue to support these critical efforts as long as funds are available. The current round of granting for 501-(c)3 status organizations has an application deadline of April 1.