A recent donation from JBS USA to the city of Grand Island will provide “a destination playground for a destination park” for all.
The funds will go toward the creation of a new playground at Veterans Sports Complex and a 1-mile addition to the John Brownell Beltline trail to the eastern edge of the city.
During a special GITV broadcast Thursday, Mayor Roger Steele expressed gratitude on behalf of the city for the gift.
Steele spoke about a meeting he had Aug. 4 with Zack Ireland, JBS general manager in Grand Island.
“Mr. Ireland gave me a check for $1 million,” he said. “I’m very thankful for JBS’ donation to our city. JBS’ Hometown Strong initiative is proving to be a great benefit to our community.”
Parks and Recreation Director Todd McCoy called the donation “very generous.”
About $600,000 of the funds will go toward extending the trail east to the JBS Swift facility and $400,000 will go toward the new playground.
McCoy said Veterans Athletic Complex is “already an exciting facility.”
“It has 10 softball/baseball fields, 12 acres of soccer space, numerous picnic areas, walking trails that connect to Eagle Scout Park, and soon eight new pickleball courts will be constructed,” he said. “It has a splash pad and, because of this donation from JBS, will soon have an exciting new playground.”
McCoy showed illustrations of what the completed playground will look like.
It will be more than 7,800 square feet, with rubber tile safety surfacing.
“It’s very low maintenance, which is very nice for our Parks and Rec staff, but also it promotes accessibility for those that maybe can’t go over the wood chips or are in wheelchairs,” he said.
It is envisioned to be “a destination playground for a destination park” with a noticeable visual impact, McCoy said.
“You can see the bright colors, and three levels of play features,” he said.
It will boast numerous elements, such as slides, swings and climbers, as well as “musical features.”
“There’s numerous features that really promote the use of imagination,” McCoy said.
The playground is designed for everyone, he said, with such features as a handicap-accessible spinner.
The features are separated by age groups, McCoy said.
The new playground is expected to be completed by early next summer.
McCoy also detailed the expansion of the Beltline trail east to the JBS Swift facility.
The donation will expand the recreational trail and provide a safe route for JBS employees to get to work, he said.
The current trail runs near the city cemetery, to Suck’s Lake Park, on to Pier Park and ends at Cherry Street.
One mile will be added to the trail.
The new trail will continue east, under the railroad tracks, behind the Hall County Jail, north of the city impound lot and cross Stuhr Road to the JBS facility.
“It will be 10 feet wide, just like the existing trail,” McCoy said. “The sidewalk (paralleling Highway 30) will be extended to 10 feet wide.”
A new pedestrian crosswalk will be included at Stuhr Road, as well.
The trail project will be designed this winter, he said, with construction expected to take place next summer.
“These are two great projects that improve quality of life for Grand Island citizens,” McCoy said. “On behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department of the city, we want to say ‘thank you’ to JBS.”
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