Lilly Endowment gives Indianapolis parks department $10 million to upgrade facilities

13 parks will be upgraded

INDIANAPOLIS - The Lilly Endowment is giving the Indianapolis Parks Foundation $10 million, the largest single donation in the organization's 20-year history.

The money will be used to renovate and upgrade facilities at 13 Indianapolis parks, city and Lilly officials announced Monday.

"Parks are essential elements of a healthy and fun community," Lilly Endowment CEO N. Clay Robbins said. "Families and neighbors gather in parks to cool off in the summer, have picnics and reunions, play and exercise."

The grant includes improvements and new amenities at the Frank and Judy O’Bannon Soccer Complex on East 16th Street in the Old Northside neighborhood.

"It's just not greenway space. It's a wonderful investment," said former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon.

Tarkington Park, with a recently updated master plan, will receive funds to begin this park’s revitalization, which includes playground upgrades, new shelters and a water feature.

Recently acquired land on the far southeast side known as Wildwood Park will receive funding to begin the development of the current greenspace into a recreational park.

The concession and restroom facility at Chuck Klein Softball Complex, which is located on Rockville Road and hosts adult softball leagues and tournaments, also will be refurbished.

Several neighborhood parks throughout the city will also see improvements, such as upgraded playground equipment, new permanent restrooms and shelters, water spray grounds, field upgrades and walking trails. These parks include Beckwith Memorial, Bel Aire, Bertha Ross, Dubarry, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gardner, Greene, Haughville and Stout Field parks.

Also included in the grant is funding to support programming partnerships throughout the parks system.

Mayor Greg Ballard said he was gracious for the donation. 

"The city of Indianapolis is extremely grateful for (Lilly's) continued support of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation and consequently our parks system," Ballard said. 

The $10 million grant will be administered over a three-year period, beginning in 2013.

In 2009, the Lilly Endowment awarded the Parks Foundation a $7.3 million grant which was used to repair and upgrade more than 60 tennis courts, install 14 permanent restrooms and fund improvements to several aquatic facilities, including a new water spray ground at Christian Park and a new $2.3 million aquatic facility at Bethel Park.

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