Forest Park Forever Meets and Exceeds $130 Million Fundraising Goal to Improve Forest Park and Expand Endowment for Long-Term Care
Millions of Dollars Raised Have Already Been Invested in Needed Park Improvements — from Athletic Fields and the River System to Roads, Bridges and Sidewalks
Conservancy to host free public celebration on April 11 to mark this milestone for Forest Park
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St. Louis, MO, March 14, 2018 — Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to care for Forest Park, announced today that it has met and exceeded its $130 million goal for Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park’s Future. The most ambitious fundraising campaign in Park history, the Forever campaign has raised more than $139 million in gifts and pledges from the community to achieve two goals:
- Expand the endowment for Forest Park by $100 million so that money is available each year to keep up with the enormous maintenance needs of this 1,300-acre space
- Raise at least $30 million to fund urgently needed Forest Park improvement projects in partnership with the City of St. Louis
Utilizing the investment income of an expanded endowment, Forest Park Forever has already been able to tackle a backlog of maintenance projects that greatly improve the visitor experience, preserve the gains made in recent decades and keep the Park from slipping into the decline of last century. Examples include:
- Fixing and maintaining the Emerson Grand Basin fountains and Kerth Fountain
- Restoring the popular but deteriorating handball courts behind the Visitor Center
- Maintaining the much-used 19 miles of Forest Park paths
- Fixing drainage issues at the base of Art Hill and in front of the Boathouse
- Replacing the old, leaky roof of the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center
- Repaving key Park roads and parking lots, in partnership with the City’s Streets Department
The major restoration projects funded through this campaign touch many areas of the visitor experience and include:
- New Park-wide wayfinding system for visitors on foot, on bikes and in cars (completed 2014)
- More sustainable, event-ready Festival & Parking Plaza at the Upper Muny (completed 2015)
- Rebuilt roads and new sidewalks around the Zoo and Art Museum (completed 2017)
- Safe new bridge and path connection between the Muny and Boathouse (completed 2018)
- Meadow and enhanced waterway between the Muny and Boathouse (completion in 2018)
- Improved Central Fields, with new drainage system and restrooms (completion in 2019)
- Improved Boeing Aviation Fields, adding irrigation and lighting to select fields (in design)
- New natural playscape where regional youth can learn in and engage with nature (in design)
- Connecting the river system on the Park’s eastern half, improving water quality (in design)
- And several others throughout Forest Park
The Forever campaign’s origins trace back more than a decade, when the City of St. Louis and Forest Park Forever began discussing how Forest Park could best be maintained and operated in the future, as well as how to preserve the dramatic gains made during the initial $100 million restoration in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After a study identified a gap in annual funding needs for Park maintenance and with a new phase of urgent restoration projects needing funding, the Forever campaign was crafted to address both needs: greatly expanding the endowment for annual Park care and raising funds for specific capital projects. As part of its formal agreement with the City, Forest Park Forever committed to raising $130 million in contributions from the community by 2018. With today’s announcement, Forest Park Forever celebrates that it successfully met its commitment to the City within the established timeline.
“We are deeply inspired by the community’s commitment to restoring and sustaining Forest Park,” said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever. “We would like to thank each and every donor, as well as our terrific partners with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. While our work here will never be complete, we are so proud to celebrate this milestone with the Forest Park community.”
“Forest Park is one of our key civic treasures and the most visited attraction in the region, welcoming 13 million annual visitors from around the world,” said Lyda Krewson, Mayor of the City of St. Louis. “Through its productive partnership with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever and its donors are helping sustain this beloved destination for the benefit of the entire community.”
“Forest Park is one of this country’s greatest urban parks and something we can all enjoy and be proud of,” said Greg Hayes, Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry with the City of St. Louis. “A park this large and popular is expensive to maintain. Through this fundraising effort, our partners with Forest Park Forever are helping ensure that Forest Park continues to thrive.”
“Forest Park is a crown jewel for the community and an essential civic asset for the region,” said John H. Ferring IV, Forever Campaign Chair. “Thanks to our Forever campaign donors, we are better able to sustain Forest Park’s beauty — and keep it from slipping back into disrepair as it did during the last century. I applaud our generous donors at every level for being part of this successful and important effort.”
“Forest Park is for all of us,” said Lawrence E. Thomas, Forest Park Forever Board Chair. “Whether it’s a family enjoying a reunion at a picnic pavilion, a couple taking their wedding photos at the Grand Basin or a running group rounding the path system and staying healthy together, everyone expects their Forest Park experience to be great. This successful fundraising effort proves just how essential Forest Park is to our community — and secures its place for years to come.”
To celebrate this milestone with the entire community, Forest Park Forever is hosting a free gathering around iconic Pagoda Circle, between the Muny and the Boathouse, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, from 5 – 7:30 p.m. The entire community is invited to enjoy live music from local favorite Fat Pocket and tasty bites from some of our area’s best food trucks, and gather with fellow Park users to celebrate its place in our lives. No RSVPs are necessary. Families are welcome.
About Forest Park Forever
Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s greatest urban public parks. Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box.
Today, Forest Park Forever maintains Forest Park with the City of St. Louis; raises funds for and helps manage capital restoration projects called for in the Forest Park Master Plan; delivers experiential educational opportunities to teachers, students and adults; and provides information and guides for the Park’s 13 million annual visitors. Not part of the Zoo-Museum Tax District, Forest Park Forever is supported by private donations from throughout the community, including its 7,500 members, 1,100 volunteers and many leading community and corporate partners.
About Forest Park
Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri, is considered one of the nation’s greatest urban public parks. The Park’s 1,300 acres feature beautiful landscapes sprinkled with forests, ecosystems, nature reserves, lakes and streams, as well as five of the region’s major cultural institutions and endless opportunities for recreation. Forest Park attracts 13 million visitors each year, making it the sixth most visited urban park in the United States. In 2016, Forest Park was voted the #1 City Park in the country by readers of USA Today.