On Aug. 17, O’Fallon communications director Tom Drabelle issued a news release announcing that the Missouri Municipal League (MML) had honored the city with the MML Innovation Award for O’Day Park. The award honors outstanding projects across Missouri that enhance the quality of life for Missouri cities.
O’Fallon’s award is for the “extra-large city” category covering cities with populations of more than 30,000. In the metro St. Louis area, other such cities include St. Louis, St. Charles, St. Peters, Florissant, Chesterfield, Wentzville, Wildwood and University City.
“MML recognized the O’Day Park project for the city’s use of an innovative, multifaceted strategy to address environmental concerns, maintain the natural character of the land, protect the habitats and ecosystems native to the area, and conserve and reuse water for irrigation throughout the park,” Drabelle explained. “The project also created an adventure playground and provided indoor and outdoor event space. The new park satisfied a need for additional recreation space within the community and expanded the footprint and unique offerings of O’Fallon’s park system.”
As outlined on the O’Fallon website, O’Day Park covers 57 acres and offers the area’s first unique “adventure playground” for children of all ages. Guests can use the climbing wall, group swings, slides, rope course, wooden log climbers, slides and a water feature with a mini-flowing stream. The park has group camping for youth groups and a “Teen Overlook.”
The park includes the O’Day Lodge meeting and banquet center, an outdoor amphitheater, miles of paved and unpaved paths, walking trails and pavilions for picnics.
“Funding for O’Day Park was provided by a bond issue approved by O’Fallon voters in 2016,” Drabelle explained. “The O’Day Park project team consisted of Mayor Bill Hennessy, the O’Fallon City Council, the parks and recreation and engineering departments, SWT Design and Navigate Building Solutions. It opened to the public on April 27, 2019.”
On a recent hot afternoon, cars in the parking lot for the adventure playground had license plates and license plate frames indicating people from O’Fallon, St. Peters, St. Louis County and Illinois. The majority of children using the playground appeared to be between 2 and 12, and, not surprisingly, the most popular activity was the water feature and its gently flowing stream.
“This was a project that we had dreamed about for years,” Drabelle said in an interview on Aug. 21. “To see it all come together and have our fellow cities honor our efforts is wonderful. We are grateful to our elected officials, our parks and recreation team and our design partner SWT Design for helping to make this dream a reality.
“But the real reward is to just come to the park on a Saturday afternoon. You see a beautiful wedding, kids playing on the playground, people hiking or running, and a family gathering for a picnic, all at the same place. The park really has something for everyone.”