The following is a statement released by the office of Rep. Chris Welch:
WESTCHESTER, Ill. – Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, to provide land conservation grants in distressed areas for the purpose of developing parks and outdoor facilities was signed into law Friday.
“This grant will improve local neighborhoods and help provide families with more opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities,” Welch said. “Many local governments struggle to complete projects due to shrinking budgets. This will help to relieve some of the financial pressures and ensure that all children have a place to exercise and utilize open space.”
Senate Bill 1341 – which Welch introduced in the House – expands finically-challenged municipalities’ access to grants for public park projects such as picnic and playground facilities, outdoor nature interpretive facilities, sports facilities, campgrounds and park roads. Welch’s measure requires the Department of Natural Resources to provide distressed local governments with Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants for up to 90 percent of the total cost of a project. Previously, these grants could only be used to cover 50 percent of a project’s cost.
The measure received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and is Welch’s seventh bill signed into law during his first legislative session. Last week Governor Quinn signed Rep. Welch’s Homeless Bill of Rights into law.
“This important piece of legislation will make more communities eligible for these grant funds which expand recreational opportunities throughout the state,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “Parks and open space should be accessible for everyone and this bill will help leave no child inside.”