Godfrey Parks Reimagined

Imagine crossing the Mississippi River between Alton and Grafton, catching the sight of pelicans swirling in the updraft of the bluffs, cycling along the Valadabene Trail in Godfrey’s River’s Edge Park on the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, and winding through the Piasa Creek watershed on top of the bluffs through the fields of yellow wildflowers. What a view! Stop for rest at the expanded Glazebrook Park splash pad. Grab a snack and a drink. Can you see it?

In 2020, the HLC Team (HeartLands Conservancy) and MECO~Heneghan Engineers (MHE) were charged with two concurrent tasks for the Village of Godfrey: first, to develop an updated comprehensive plan for the park system; and second, to assist the Village in planning and implementing the expansion of Glazebrook Park through an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). As reported in Fall/Winter 2021 Meanderings, Godfrey broke ground on the expansion project and is well on the way to pickleball tournaments later this year.

Funded in part by a grant from the Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD), the 2030 Comprehensive Parks and Open Space Plan was developed to address and guide the Village‘s needs and the connectivity of neighborhoods, trails, and parks based on community input.

The 2030 Plan process analyzed the current conditions of the park system and served to inspire the community to envision what the park system’s future could look like. Where are the future parks for kids to play?

With this in mind, the planning process helped the Village:

  • Assess current recreation facilities and identify recreation needs in the community;
  • Predict future demand and evaluate feasibility options;
  • Develop a strategic plan of action; and
  • Identify potential costs and sources of funding.

Using information provided by HLC, residents developed a vision and goals for the park and open space system. The plan provides strategies and recommendations based on that vision.

Lastly, an action strategy links related funding opportunities. MHE developed the opinion of probable construction costs in conjunction with HeartLands Conservancy.

The 2030 Plan recommends:

Protect natural resources. The Village is rich in active recreation (team sports) with 278 acres of parkland and the conservation of natural sites (1,205 acres, including 597 acres in private conservation). In an area rich in natural resources with over 7,700 acres of undulating forests and over 270 acres in wetlands, protection of the tree canopy and watershed ranked high with the community.

More parks on the east side. Increase the number of smaller parks located near or connected to neighborhoods, especially the east side.

Embrace the Village’s riverfront. Did you know Godfrey has 4.4 miles of riverfront? What an opportunity!

Fifty-one miles of bicycle facilities and pedestrian connectivity. There are currently 18 miles of bicycle facilities and walking trails (including the Sam B. Vadalabene Great River Road Bike Trail at 4.4 miles of Godfrey River frontage). HLC completed the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan for Godfrey a few years ago, and it was incorporated as part of the plan.

Increase and formalize public/private partnerships to put the plan into action, increase community vitality, and further develop Godfrey‘s regional identity. The changes and improvements outlined in the 2030 Plan require careful coordination so that the Village may successfully continue the ongoing development and expansion of the park system, programming, and human resources.

Special thanks to the Village of Godfrey residents, Mayor Michael J. McCormick, elected officials, administrators Rich Beran, Village Engineer, Chris Logan, Director of Parks & Recreation, and Todd Schubert, Past Director of Parks & Recreation, community leaders, staff, and stakeholders, for without their insight, support and enthusiasm, HeartLands Conservancy could not have completed the plan. With gratitude to Metro East Park and Recreation District for their generous support through their grant program to assist communities.

To discuss community or park planning opportunities, contact Jenny Reiman, Resilient Communities Program Manager, at 618-566-4451 x 16 jenny.reiman@heartlandsconservancy.org.