Group kickstarts fundraising ideas for outdoor recreation site

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MONTICELLO, Ill. (WCIA) — People are generating ideas to transform 30 acres of land into a massive outdoor recreation site.

The multi-million dollar question is how to pay for it. It would be on city-owned land near Greenapple Lane and Applewood Drive. On Tuesday night, dozens of people came to a meeting to brainstorm ideas to fundraise the $9.2 million it would take to build it.

The plan includes two full-sized football fields, four smaller youth soccer fields, a basketball court, three baseball fields, a fishing pond and a playground.

The city bought the land in 2009. Through the last 10 years, they’ve hired an engineer and created design plans. But so far, no physical progress has been made at the site. The city and many others in town agree, it’s finally time to make it happen.

Doug Lilly with the Monticello Recreation Foundation wants to turn the vision into reality. He says, “I want to build something where our kids can play outside and not be stuck inside, where adults have a safe place to go and to be active. We’ve become kind of a sedentary society and something like this is an opportunity for people to just get outside.”

Since it has yet to move past the point of conception, the city challenged the community to raise the money.

Lilly says, “I’m not going to go into this questioning if we think we can really do this. Absolutely, we can. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could do this.”

About 50 people came to the meeting to kickstart fundraising ideas and form committees to organize it. Tanya Williamson came to support the idea.
She says, “I absolutely want to see this happen. We have tons of kids in that neighborhood and throughout the town that would benefit from having a sports structure.”

Lilly believes there is a big need for this in Monticello. He says, “We have a lot of traveling teams like softball, baseball, and soccer. If you’re from Monticello that’s what you do, travel. There is no place here where we can host an event.” He says this could be a big money maker for the city by bringing in crowds to spend at hotels and restaurants.

Lilly is going into this with an “all or nothing” mentality. The Monticello Recreation Foundation wants to raise the total amount before starting construction so the project can move forward full steam ahead. Lilly says, “To do this in phases won’t really work. We need to put this thing together, start construction and do the whole thing.”

The foundation will present an update on fundraising efforts to the city council sometime in November. Right now, there’s no timeline for the project until they raise the money.

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