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Ambitious Campaign Launched for Forest Park's Future
With a goal of raising $130 million in private funds, one of the Forever campaign's goal is to complete the connections of the Park's waterway system, revitalize its natural areas as seen above in Pagoda Lake in front of The Muny.
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), October 4, 2015 - Forest Park Forever has announced a major, multi-year fundraising initiative called Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future.
With a goal of raising $130 million in private funds, the Forever campaign has two central goals:
Complete $30 million in strategic restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan
Expand Forest Park Forever's endowment by $100 million, ensuring that the Park can be cared for at the level it needs, today and in the coming decades
"Forest Park is the St. Louis region's greatest civic treasure," said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to care for the Park. "For generations, many millions of St. Louisans and visitors have lived some of their greatest moments right here in Forest Park. At this critical juncture in the Park's history, Forest Park Forever is committed to securing the future of this beloved destination. The Forever campaign will significantly improve Forest Park for today's visitors, while also ensuring that the Park will remain beautiful and welcoming for our children and our children's children."
The Park restoration and improvement projects within the Forever campaign focus on four key areas:
Renewed Landscapes and Waterways: On the Park's eastern side, complete the connections of the Park's waterway system, revitalize its natural areas and complete the Park's wildlife corridor; rebuild Liberal Arts Bridge (between the Muny and the Boathouse), create enhanced water features beneath it and create a new meadow to its south
Revitalized Recreation and Amenities: Build an innovative new natural playscape; rebuild and extend paths and trails for runners, walkers and cyclists; further improve the popular ball fields at Aviation Field, with new irrigation and more lighting for extended evening use; reconfigure Central Fields so that more recreational activities can take place at once; renovate and modernize restrooms and drinking fountains (enabling more to be open year round); create welcoming gathering plazas around select restrooms
Renovated Community Event Spaces: Rebuild and transform the Upper Muny Lot (introduced as the more vibrant and sustainable Festival & Parking Plaza in 2015); rebuild Central Fields so that it's not only better equipped to host athletic games but also large community events like the Great Forest Park Balloon Race and LouFest
Improved Safety, Access and Circulation: Rebuild the Park's heavily used roadways and install safe and accessible sidewalks, including in those areas leading to the Saint Louis Zoo and Saint Louis Art Museum; increase safety, accessibility and orientation for the Park's 13 million annual visitors, including pedestrians and bicyclists
"We are truly inspired by the leadership and generosity of the early donors who have enabled the Forever campaign to raise more than $116 million toward our $130 million goal," said Campaign Chair John H. Ferring IV. "Forest Park has become one of the country's greatest public parks, and one of the region's greatest gems, because community members continue stepping forward to support it. We are grateful to our donors for the campaign's remarkable progress thus far and look forward to achieving our goal for the good of the Park and the entire region."
"This is an exciting time for Forest Park and its millions of annual visitors," said Greg Hayes, Director of St. Louis City's Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. "Our partnership with Forest Park Forever has entered a strong new era. The Forever campaign will make a significant impact on stretching City dollars in a way that helps keep Forest Park such a landmark destination, while also enabling our department to continue strong stewardship of more than 100 other parks throughout St. Louis City."
The community is invited to learn about Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future at theforevercampaign.org.
Forest Park Forever Receives $20 Million Contribution
Forest Park Forever is located in the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center. SLFP.com file photo
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), September 27, 2015 - Forest Park Forever announced recently it has received a gift of $20 million from Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III and the JSM Charitable Trust. With this extraordinary multi-year gift, these philanthropic civic leaders are enabling Forest Park Forever to advance urgently needed improvement projects and strengthen the Park's long-term financial standing through an expanded endowment.
"With this remarkable investment in Forest Park, Jim and Libby have demonstrated how critical they believe this civic treasure is to our region," said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to care for the Park. "We are humbled by their generosity, their belief in our mission and the genuine love their family has for these beloved 1,300 acres."
With its expanded role in maintaining the Park with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever is working to preserve the gains made during recent decades, tackle urgent Park-wide capital projects and repairs, and secure the Park's financial future. To do so, Forest Park Forever is increasing its annual investment in the Park and accelerating the next phase of restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan. This remarkable gift from the McDonnells supports both these critical efforts.
"Forest Park is a treasured destination and so important to the St. Louis region," said James S. McDonnell III. "Our family has enjoyed the Park for many decades. During every visit, we see such a great variety of activities, from biking and running to enjoying the Park's world-class cultural institutions. Elizabeth and I want to ensure that Forest Park is here for everyone for generations to come."
"The McDonnells have had an exceptional and lasting impact on St. Louis," said Thomas R. Collins, Chairman of the Forest Park Forever Board of Directors. "Their generous contributions across fields such as healthcare, education and the arts have made our region stronger, healthier and more enjoyable. We are truly inspired by their $20 million gift to Forest Park Forever. As this gift improves today's Forest Park and expands Forest Park Forever's endowment, it will improve the lives of millions of St. Louis residents and visitors for centuries to come."
Forest Park Is the 'Crown Jewel' of St. Louis
The newly renovated fountain on Government Hill beneath the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.
In 1876, Forest Park was created from 1,371 acres of land west of downtown St. Louis. By the 1890s, the public park was widely used for recreation with bicycle paths, baseball diamonds and lawn tennis courts. An expanded lake provided parkgoers with an opportunity for boating in the summer and skating in the winter. Funds were raised to develop the St. Louis Zoo by the Forest Park Zoological Association.
The western half of the metropolitan park was used as the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Today, the Saint Louis Art Museum occupies one of the few remaining structures built for the Fair. The Missouri Historical Society is comprised of the new Emerson Electric Center and the Jefferson Memorial Building. The building was the first memorial built to honor Thomas Jefferson and was funded with proceeds from the 1904 Fair.
A natural amphitheater near Art Hill was developed as The Muny in 1917 with proceeds from a theatrical production called the Pageant and Masque which was performed on a stage built over part of the Grand Basin.
In 1936, an Art Deco-style Conservatory opened in Forest Park. The Jewel Box is surrounded by rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary and monuments and houses seasonal displays.
The site of a razed Mounted Police Station became space for the McDonnell Planetarium which was completed in 1963. In 1984, the city sold the Planetarium to the Museum of Science and Natural History. The building, renamed the St. Louis Science Center, is connected by a highway overpass and tunnel to its new headquarters, south of Forest Park.
Private donors to Forest Park Forever paid for the $1.1 million restoration of the World's Fair Pavilion. The current renovation is the first of three scheduled phases of Forest Park Master Plan. Forest Park is used by more than 13 million visitors a year. Forest Park Forever was founded in 1986 to work in partnership with the Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry to rehabilitate and maintain the Forest Park as the "Crown Jewel" of the metropolitan area.
The annual Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race is held on Central Field, located just north of the Jewel Box. The Concours d'Elegance and Easter Car Show is held on the Muny upper parking lot.
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