Water conservation

Tower Grove, forest parks to get basketball courts

By 2023, the two largest parks in St. Louis are expected to have basketball courts.

A $ 250,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund will help fund court restoration at Tower Grove Park, located in south-central St. Louis. The park used to have basketball courts, but they were removed in the late 1990s as the concrete deteriorated.

“[Basketball] was one of the most requested recreation additions to the park during the main planning process, ”said Park General Manager Bill Reinenger. “So we really expect people to use them and be excited about them. “

Despite its central location, Forest Park has never had a basketball court, said Greg Hayes, the city’s director of parks.

“It was not technically envisaged in the 1995 master plan,” he said, adding that there was a “minimum reference” to the establishment of basketball in the area that has become the stables of the police department.

Some have seen the lack of basketball courts in Forest Park and others as being racially motivated, intended to prevent people of color from going to parts of town. Two efforts to build basketball courts in Forest Park, one in 2016 and one in 2017, failed to gain ground.

Hayes said serious conversations about adding basketball started about a year and a half ago.

The final location of the courts has yet to be decided, but Hayes said the city and the Forest Park Advisory Board are leaning heavily towards a location behind the visitors’ center, close to the parking lot, washrooms and others. sports facilities, including tennis, handball and racquetball courts. . Funding will come from the city budget and donations to Forest Park Forever, the nonprofit that helps support the park.

Hayes said officials were eager to hear what park users think about the possibility of basketball courts. Under the park master plan, there are at least two other opportunities for public comment.

“We are excited about the prospect of basketball at Forest Park so that people can have a safe, fun and enjoyable time enjoying this equipment which is popular,” he said.

SWT design

An artist rendering shows the basketball courts on offer at Tower Grove Park.

The courts at Tower Grove Park will be built in a grassy area just south of the red-and-white-topped Turkish pavilion near the center of the park, Reininger said. They will harmonize with the Victorian architecture of the park, with a stone wall replacing the typical metal benches for sitting.

“They will be separated from each other by a footbridge that will be planted,” he said. “We can also set up a nice place so that there is a drinking fountain as well as picnic tables.”

Reininger hopes to raise the required $ 250,000 in matching funds and complete the design within a year.

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