Five local nonprofits received nearly $2.4 million from the St. Louis County Port Authority to make improvements to the Jefferson Barracks and Lemay communities.
, which serves approximately 120 kids from ages 6 weeks to 12 years, will receive $350,000 to fund a new playground and outdoor facility.
The playground will be a blend of natural play and commercial equipment, said Elaine Powers, the executive director of Lemay Child and Family Center.
“We were hopeful and got really excited when we got the phone call and received what we asked for,” Powers said. “The competition with these grants gets tougher every year.”
A grass amphitheater, bike trail, kickball field and gardens are among the highlights of the proposed playground.
The space will be age-separated, from an infant and toddler area to playground equipment for school-aged children.
“I appreciate that the Port Authority’s focus is on economic development, and they see economic development in a pretty broad way,” Powers said. “Investing in early childhood education is a form of development. The key is that they recognize and understand that broader effect.”
The grant will help greatly with the geographical challenges of the area. Powers said the space has issues with storm water run-off and puddles.
Approximately $200,000 will be used to get the ground ready for construction.
The money from the Port Authority is a challenge grant, meaning Lemay Child and Family still needs to raise money for the project.
They’ll be fundraising over the next year, and will start construction on the playground in 2013. Powers estimates the project will be complete by the end of 2013.
The playground is the third of three phases to improve the center. The first entailed improving the original building, while the second added space for toddler care.
The center previously received $138,000 for a new development director position (phased over three years) and $90,000 for a community education program with the Hancock School District.
This year's grants are the fourth round , an affiliate of the St. Louis County Economic Council. The funds stem from the Port Authority Community Reinvestment Fund, created by revenue from the land lease of Pinnacle Entertainment’s River City Casino.
For the first five years of its lease, the Port Authority pledges to reinvest 75 percent of River City's monthly $333,333 lease payments to the Lemay community. Twice a year, the Port Authority gives out the grants to organizations in need of funds for specific projects.
More than $20 million will be generated over the next five years and given to organizations that need a last push of funding for their projects.
Below are the other local recipients of grants.
Construction of a new building facade
American Legion Post 162
Capital improvements to facilities
Friends of Jefferson Barracks
Restoration of the north entry gate to Jefferson Barracks
Lemay Child and Family Center
New Playground equipment and outdoor improvements
Lemay Development Corporation
Pre-development costs and the loan for property acquisition
Applications for the next round of funding will be available April 1.