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DECATUR — The Decatur Park District Board of Commissioners approved plans Wednesday for $3.9 million capital projects in the next fiscal year.

Money for the projects will come from bond issuances, grants and partnerships, said Rodney Buhr, the park district’s chief financial officer. The projects include accessibility improvements throughout the park district, updates to the Decatur Indoor Sports Center and roughly $300,000 in improvements to neighborhood parks.

Commissioner Cindy Deadrick-Wolfer said the neighborhood parks continue to be a focus for the park district, though she said people sometimes forget that.

“I think staff has done a really, really good job of trying to take our dollars and spread them throughout the whole district so that everybody, every area, is touched,” she said.

Commissioner Jack Kenny said the district is also shifting the amenities available in parks to correspond with the community’s needs. For instance, basketball is more widely played than tennis.

“You go back 30 or 40 years ago, and tennis courts were quite popular,” Kenny said. “They’ve kind of gone out of style. So what do we do with those facilities? And in some cases, we’re changing them to basketball courts, since they’ll be used more.”

Roughly $10,000 is set aside for native plantings throughout the parks, in addition to grant money that is allocated for similar planting in Nelson Park.

Park district officials have indicated that the transition to native prairie grasses and plants would reduce maintenance costs and provide opportunities for nature to flourish in the parks. Staff members are still reviewing the best places to make these changes.

Commissioner Chris Harrison said parks should be more than “tall trees and short grass.”

“There should be birds in the weeds. That’s where kids should be playing,” he said. “... I’m not saying we do that everywhere.”

The park district’s next fiscal year begins May 1.

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Regional Editor

Regional editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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