Wednesday, August 27, 2014

O'Fallon Park

O'Fallon Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks.  This 126 acre park was placed into ordinance in 1908 and is bordered roughly by I-70, West Florissant Avenue and Adelaide Avenue in the O'Fallon neighborhood.

This is a beautiful park.  One of my favorites.  And you can't help but draw the comparison of O'Fallon Park to Carondelet Park as both have popular fishing lakes, extensive paved walking trails, picnic places, a wooden home, similar boathouses, nearly identical service buildings and massive modern Recreational Complexes.

The park is highly visible from I-70 so most in the region know O'Fallon Park from the rolling hills and mature trees just east and south of Bellefontaine Cemetery.

Let's start with the boathouse and lake.  This is a popular fishing spot with fishermen on all sides of the lake.  There is a planted island in the middle of the lake, and chess tables and currently empty planters between the lake and the boathouse.

There is a functional spray pool as well, great to see!

The walking path is extensive and extremely well used.  There are spots along the track that include the commonly seen blue workout stations.  Also nice to see are functional water fountains and bike racks near the trail.

One of the amazing new developments is a handicap accessible playground installed in 2014.  This one precedes the one currently under construction in Willmore Park.

The playground has space themed playground equipment, and I could be wrong, but I think it even has a Mork from Ork egg:

The highlight of the playground to me were two glockenspiel/marimba like things.  Check it out:

There is also a separate, accessible spray pool.

The park has tennis courts, football field (with field goals) and basketball courts as well, all in excellent condition:

There are several picnic pavilions:

There is a wood home is severe disrepair and a cool looking service building.

Much of the eastern part of the park is made up of rolling hills and mature trees.

Now the downside that has to be mentioned, because it is quite overt.  There are issues with knuckleheads cruising and trashing the park along the interior roads.  Broken booze/beer glass is everywhere and trash lines the streets in many spots.  It's a party spot, which kills the peaceful vibe.

The copious trash from was pretty intense the first time I saw it, so I assumed a big event may have just taken place, so I made 3 separate visits to the park so as not to wrongly paint the picture of this park.  Nope, it was pretty bad each time.  The city workers do a great job of mowing and keeping the trash cans emptied, but they don't clean the debris from the streets and gutters.

Abuse of the park is being monitored though, as there are visible camera within the park.  Based on my experience, this is the only park in the city that has cameras.  Good for O'Fallon, but these are needed in many city parks.

Arguably the best thing to happen to the park in recent memory is the awesome Rec Plex complete with outdoor pool and water slides.  This place is amazing.

The parking lot is green to avoid runoff.

There are entry ways from the surrounding neighborhoods that lead to the rec plex.

The homes that surround the park are straight up beautiful.

O'Fallon Park is one of the crown jewels of the St. Louis Parks.

Unity Park

Unity Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks.  This 2 acre park is located on the former Walnut Park School grounds at the intersection of Riverview Boulevard and Thekla Avenue in the Walnut Park East neighborhood:

The park was placed into ordinance in 2004 per the city website.  While the city website does not list a location, accurate map or correct neighborhood (the say this is within Baden).

The park has paved walkways that start at each corner and convene in the center where there are two monuments and a bench.

The first monument is a stone and fiberglass sculpture dedicated to the children in the neighborhood.

The second is a granite monument dedicated to veterans of WWII.

There are nicely landscaped areas at the corner and center of the park.

Walnut Park School, now closed, was built in 1909 by renowned architect William B. Ittner:
Walnut Park School was opened in 1900, at Robin and Thekla Avenues, in a small frame structure. Rapid growth of the community made larger and more modern educational facilities necessary, with the result that the present Walnut Park School at 5814 Thekla was opened in September, 1909. It had 18 classrooms, two gymnasiums, an auditorium and a block square site which provided ample playground space. The school was designed by architect William B. Ittner at a cost of $161,188. (source)
Hopefully the school will see a new use, as today the grounds are overgrown and a decaying animal skeleton marks the front door, a symbol of abandonment.