Oak Lawn Park District Awarded $600,000 OSLAD Grant

Oak Lawn Park District Awarded $600,000 OSLAD Grant

Published 3/3/2023

The Oak Lawn Park District has been awarded a $600,000 Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. This grant will assist in funding the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge Rejuvenation Project. This project includes repaving pathways, adding a ½ basketball court, six pickleball courts, fitness area, table games area, removal of invasive species, and other upgrades.

“Any time we can provide an improvement to our community that they’ve helped us identify and then find ways to fund it outside of taxpayer dollars, we’re going to make every attempt to secure those funds,” said Tom Hartwig, executive director. “I want to thank Mayor Terry Vorderer and the Trustees at the Village of Oak Lawn, Representative Kelly Burke, Senator Bill Cunningham, and the Southwest Conference of Mayors for providing support for us and for our staff that worked so hard to help us secure this grant.”

The Wolfe Wildlife Rejuvenation Project includes the following:

  • Repaving the entire asphalt walking path, approximately 1.2 miles
  • Construction of six courts dedicated to pickleball near 107th & Laramie (Little Wolfe) 
  • Construction of a new ½ Basketball Court 
  • Construction of a new fitness area with nine elements
  • Construction of a new table game area
  • Upgrades to the overlook bridge at Stony Creek 
  • Upgrades to the overlook area at Big Wolfe
  • Removal of invasive species, planting of woodland natives, and interpretive signage.

Construction of this project is anticipated to begin this fall and will be completed in the summer of 2024.

“Wolfe Wildlife is a fantastic park, and these improvements will only make it better,” said Hartwig.  “The pathways improvements will provide improvements to our residents that make the park safer and easier to enjoy. As for pickleball, it’s the fastest growing sport in the nation and we’re happy to see our community have another spot to play.”

Wolfe Wildlife Refuge, located at 109th & Laramie Ave, is a 45-acre natural wetland that features a walking/biking path, observation deck, outdoor pavilion, and a custom “tree-themed,” all-inclusive playground with seven swings and multiple slides.

Established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1986, OSLAD is a cost-sharing program between state and local governments that has become one of the most popular grant programs in Illinois. Since it was established, OSLAD has awarded more than $530 million for park projects throughout Illinois (including the awards announced today).

"Today, I couldn't be prouder to announce that IDNR's OSLAD program is offering the largest round of grants in the history of the program — nearly $60 million," said Governor JB Pritzker. "The health and wellbeing of Illinoisans sits at the heart of the OSLAD program, and for the first time ever, we've been able to provide 100% of funding assistance to qualifying distressed recipients."

OSLAD grants typically provide up to 50% of funding for a project – excluding economically distressed communities where 100% of project costs have been covered. The other 50% are supplied by matching funds from the project’s local government agency. 

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