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Byron to build new $923,000 riverfront park

State grant to pay for slightly less than half

BYRON – Byron will be getting a new $1 million riverfront park, thanks in part to a $400,000 state grant.

The Donald B. Johnson Riverfront Park will be built on 10 acres near River Drive, land the Byron Park District bought in January 2019. 

There will be parking lots, a playground, a small shelter, landscaping, and a combination of hard surface trails, fishing areas and a walking trail along the river. Rock will be brought in to stabilize the shoreline.

Mostly, though, the park will be grassy open space. The park is in a floodway, so there will be no sports fields or anything else that could be damaged by rising water. 

“There won't be athletic fields or scheduled programming,” said Paul Zepezauer, the district's executive director. “We could do some movies or concerts in the park, potentially, but it's more of a neighborhood park and an area for natural space."

The total cost will be about $923,000.

The grant is from the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program, administered by the Department of Natural Resources, which aims to help communities acquire open space and develop and improve recreational facilities.

The remaining $523,000 will come from the district's capital improvement fund.

The park district paid $90,000 for the land, half of which also was covered by a grant.

Johnson's heirs sold it to the district with the stipulation that it be named after him.

Construction is set to begin in spring 2021 and be completed that fall. Tree removal has begun.

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