On Saturday, October 8, Great Rivers Greenway, the City of Wellston, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department, Beyond Housing, and the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County invite area residents to celebrate the transformation of a vacant lot at the corner of Etzel and Skinker into a vibrant community park. The grand opening festivities will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the new Trojan Park, which is located at 6150 Etzel Avenue and lies along the St. Vincent Greenway. The event will include free food from area food trucks, basketball activities, music and dance performances.

Named after the mascot of Wellston’s former Eskridge High School, Trojan Park has been designed by and for Wellston residents as a space for the community to gather and play. “The city of Wellston is thrilled to establish this new park,” said Mayor Nathaniel Griffin. “We want to do everything we can to give kids a great place to play and our whole community a space to come together.”

The new 1-acre park includes a family pavilion, splash plaza, butterfly gardens, three playgrounds, benches, and full-size basketball and volleyball courts. It also features fitness and creative play equipment for all ages, including options for different generations to spend time together.

The park was developed as part of NRPA’s 2016 Parks Build Community initiative, which aims to demonstrate the transformative value of parks and recreation on communities across the country. Each year, NRPA builds a new park or revitalizes an existing park in partnership with recreational equipment manufacturers and community organizations within the region hosting its annual conference. Trojan Park represents the sixth Parks Build Community project aligned with the NRPA Annual Conference.

“With St. Louis serving as the host region for the 2016 NRPA Conference, it’s a great opportunity to bring this park, which will serve both the City of St. Louis and Wellston, to life on the St. Vincent Greenway,” said Megan Riechmann, Great Rivers Greenway project manager. “Our project team has enjoyed working with area residents and leaders to build this new park for the community to enjoy for years to come.”

Trojan Park lies within the larger St. Vincent Greenway, a 7-mile corridor that will stretch from the North Hanley MetroLink Station, near the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, all the way to Forest Park. The new park is an important component of the greenway’s master plan, serving as one of several community gathering spaces that also connect people to the greenway.

Since 2014, Great Rivers Greenway has been working closely with community development organization Beyond Housing and the residents of Wellston and Pagedale on the plans to expand the St. Vincent Greenway through their communities. These residents also played a key role in designing Trojan Park.

“The community feedback has been positive and enthusiastic. They have taken immediate ownership of the project; greatly influencing the design and function of the space,” says Chris Krehmeyer, president and CEO of Beyond Housing.  “It will be wonderful to see Trojan Park filled with people playing, exercising or just spending time outside with their friends, families and neighbors.”

Trojan Park was built with the support of many partners and sponsors. Great Rivers Greenway has collaborated with nonprofit partner Beyond Housing to engage the community, gathering critical input to form the park’s design. The Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County provided a $315,000 grant to assist with site preparation and construction. Great Rivers Greenway secured the property, invested in the design and site preparation and has served as project manager. NRPA worked with playground equipment and park amenity manufacturers from across the country to receive donated site furnishings such as playground and fitness equipment, bike racks, lighting, drinking fountains and much more. Great Rivers Greenway has also worked closely with the City of Wellston and the St. Louis County Parks Department to develop a detailed maintenance plan for Trojan Park they will implement together.

As project partners, sponsors and community members gather to celebrate the grand opening of the new park, many parks and recreation professionals from across the nation will also be in attendance at the event as part of the 2016 NRPA Conference. All are welcome to come and enjoy the new space. For more information about the opening event, Trojan Park or the St. Vincent Greenway, or for a full list of donors, visit http://greatriversgreenway.org/trojanpark/.