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Welles Park Wins $20,000 Grant To Fund NaturePlace

 The Welles Park Advisory Council won a grant for community outreach to introduce seniors to the NaturePlace.
The Welles Park Advisory Council won a grant for community outreach to introduce seniors to the NaturePlace.
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Welles Park Advisory Council

LINCOLN SQUARE — Chicagoans' ability to stuff a ballot box paid off in a big way for Welles Park, which earned enough votes to win a $20,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association and The Walt Disney Company.

Welles, at 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave., was one of 16 parks across the country announced Thursday as recipients of the "Meet Me at the Park" grant. The program's mission is to fund park improvement projects that connect kids to nature, inspire healthy living and provide access to sports.

The money will be used to convert a former playground into the NaturePlace — a one-acre area "full of hidden nooks ... and buzzing wildlife" — near the intersection of Montrose and Western avenues.

The Chicago Park District is set to beginning installing elements of the NaturePlace in late May, with work lasting through the fall. A community grand opening event will be scheduled for later this summer, according to officials.