Submitted to The Source
Photos by Sue Lambie
Two years after securing the first grant to rejuvenate half-century-old Minnie Barr Park, representatives of Jacksonville Memorial Hospital and its partners in the renovation formally dedicated the space on Monday, May 23.
“It has been an extraordinary community project with significant financial support and volunteer hours,” said Lori Hartz, director of community health for Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.
Since the project’s beginning in 2019, organizers have raised more than $115,500. Scores of volunteers have dedicated time to install and restore playground equipment and provide an expanded sports court. In addition, landscaping, new fencing and security lighting make for a safe space for families to enjoy.
“I love that it’s not been just one group of people — it’s been our whole community — doing this work to make Minnie Barr Park a better place for everyone,” said Polly Pulley, community leader and director of the Spirit of Faith Soup Kitchen.
Pulley adds, “It’s been wonderful to see cars over at the park and families cooking out and children playing on the equipment. It’s been a blessing.”
Local sponsors of the Minnie Barr Park revitalization project include The Tracy Family Foundation, City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville Rotary Club and Rotary District 6460, Jacksonville Memorial Hospital, Passavant 5K and 10K races, Jacksonville Children’s Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Jacksonville, Sunrise Rotary, Amvets, Aldi and Ameren Illinois.
“Playgrounds are vital resources because having that open-air, green space helps strengthen our kids physically, mentally, socially and emotionally,” said Hartz.