JREDC Recognizes Parks and Recreation Serve as an Economic Driver

JREDC Recognizes Parks and Recreation Serve as an Economic Driver Main Photo

8 Jul 2022


July is Park and Recreation Month! In Jacksonville, Illinois, parks and recreation amenities abound. They add to the quality of life and this, in and of itself, drives economic development because vibrant and resilient communities attract workers and businesses, as well as tourists. 

Research on micropolitan communities has found that amenities such as recreation opportunities are likely as big of contributors to healthy local economies as traditional “business-friendly” measures such as lower taxes and labor costs. Smaller cities with a higher quality of life experience both higher employment and population growth than similarly situated communities, including those that rank high by traditional economic competitiveness measures. 

Morgan and Scott Counties are known for plentiful outdoor recreation options in picturesque, safe environments. Having fun after work or on the weekends is hassle-free when the great outdoors is a stone’s throw from home and there’s virtually no traffic. Our residents enjoy making their lives here, and new families want to move in; this further translates into an attractive labor pool for businesses and industries looking to expand or relocate.

Visitors are also important economic drivers, and parks, nature trails, golf and fishing are known to draw them in. When people come to our community to play ball, fish in Lake Jacksonville, Morgan Lake, or Mauvaise Terre Lake, take a spin on our Ferris Wheel, hit a round of golf at one of our several courses, or camp, they spend money locally on meals, gas, and shopping. This is good news for retailers, restaurants and the tax base.

Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC) and local leadership understand the economic benefits of recreation amenities. A new boat launch at Mauvaise Terre Lake was recently completed using a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Larger boats will now be able to access the lake with ease allowing for its popularity as a destination to expand. A new parking lot was part of the project, and as always, the lake is well stocked with fish.

Lake JacksonvilleLake Jacksonville

All the beauty and excitement of the great outdoors await you at Lake Jacksonville. Located three miles south of Jacksonville off Route 267, this 500-acre man-made lake is filled with bass, bluegill, red-ear sunfish and channel catfish. It is the perfect location for boating, water skiing, fishing and other water activities. Camping, a boat dock and trails for walking and biking are available. The lake has held the title of the “#1 Bass Fishing Lake in Illinois.”

Mauvaise Terre Lake

Mauvaise Terre Lake, located in Morgan County, covers 172 acres and is approximately 11 feet at its deepest point. Anglers can expect to catch a variety of fish, including bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, white crappie and yellow bullhead. A new boat launch and dock was recently added to allow for bigger boats. Shoreline fishing can be accessed on the southwest and south shorelines. The lake is bordered by the Jacksonville Country Club, the Bark Park and the Links of Jacksonville.

Nichols ParkNichols Park

Nichols Park, the largest of the City’s parks, covers 86 acres in southeast Jacksonville and offers an Olympic-size swimming pool, fishing, golf, a large, well-equipped playground, horseshoe courts, ballparks, gazebos and picnic facilities expansive enough for any family reunion. Morgan Lake is stocked twice a year with rainbow trout for a great fishing experience. The Links, an 18-hole championship golf course, and an additional 9-hole golf course are in the southern portion of the park.

Emma Mae Leonhard Wildlife Sanctuary & Nature Trail

Located on East Vandalia Road, Emma Mae Leonhard Wildlife Sanctuary & Nature Trail is a ¼-mile-long wooded trail with branching side trails that wind along Mauvaise Terre Lake. The trail is suitable for hiking, biking, jogging or simply enjoying local wildlife and plants. The Nature Trail includes tree identification signs.

Winchester Community PoolWinchester Community Swimming Pool

Located in Scott County along East Park, the Winchester Pool is perfect for family summertime fun. The facility features changing rooms and a snack bar and offers lap swimming, lessons, water aerobics and more. It also hosts swim teams and special programming like sunrise yoga. 

Jacksonville Community Park

Jacksonville Community Park is unique and full of surprises!  The newest park in the Jacksonville parks system is located on 60 acres at the intersection of Main Street and Morton Avenue and is home to the historic and functioning Big Eli Ferris Wheel and the Skate Park. This park also has playground equipment, picnic areas and large soccer fields. 

Ron Stucker Memorial Skate Park

Inside Jacksonville Community Park, the Skate Park features a 5,000-square-foot concrete pad with ten exhilarating features to test your skills, including grind boxes, grind rails, 1/4 pipes and 1/2 pipes.

Jacksonville Bark Park

Located near Mauvaise Terre Lake, this 7-acre fenced, off-leash park has great shade trees, pavilions, benches, and plenty of room to run with separate areas for large and small dogs. The park is continually working to improve to make it even more enjoyable. It’s a great place to socialize for dogs and their humans.

Central Park

Located in the center of Jacksonville’s historic downtown, Central Park is the place to be for events and festivals throughout the year, including the Jacksonville Main Street Pumpkin Festival, the Jacksonville Main Street Christkindlmarket and free live music on most Fridays in the summer. It is also rich in history with a Civil War monument honoring the Abolitionist movement, “Looking for Lincoln” wayside exhibits explaining Lincoln’s connection to the heart of the city, a Charters of Freedom display, and a Civil War cannon. The park benches are repurposed from locally made Ferris Wheel seats.

Godfrey Park

Located in The Village of South Jacksonville, fully accessible Godfrey Park, Play-For-All Park is the place to go with your little ones on a hot summer day. This free park features a fantastic  playground and splash pad water features.

Veterans Park

Located west of Illinois College, Veterans Park has two tennis courts, picnic facilities and a dog park.

Duncan Park

Located in the 1200 block of West State Street, Duncan Park is within walking distance of Illinois College, Illinois School for the Deaf, and the Jacksonville Historic District. It has mature trees with a large, shaded playground for kids. The Duncan Mansion, home of former Illinois Governor Joseph Duncan, stands in the park and is open periodically for tours.

Jacksonville Disc Golf

Located in Foreman Grove Park, this nine-hole disc golf course is fun for all ages and skill levels. It’s a perfect outing for groups both large and small. There is also a playground.

Jacksonville Country Club

Varying membership levels at Jacksonville Country Club can provide access to one of the most beautiful courses in Illinois, family fun in the spacious pool area, challenging tennis on all-weather courts, and distinctive dining.

K’s Creek Golf Club

K’s Creek Golf Club is a beautiful nine-hole executive-style public golf course spread out over 63 acres on Jacksonville’s northern edge. K’s Creek’s well-manicured bluegrass fairways and tees, and bent grass greens, offer one-of-a-kind playability to challenge and impress golfers of all ages and ability levels. There is also a restaurant and Legends Event Center.

Links at Jacksonville

Located in Nichols Park, the Links Golf Course is an 18-hole championship golf course designed by David Gill, architect of the Village Links at Glen Ellyn and Hulman Links at Terre Haute. The Links is one of the finest public golf courses in central Illinois.

Jacksonville Golf Course

Jacksonville Golf Course, also known as Nichols Park Golf Course, is a 9-hole par 33 short course in south Nichols Park.

Plum Creek Golf Course

Plum Creek is a public nine-hole course in Scott County designed by Steven Halberg. It measures 3150 yards from the tips, while offering four tee options. The course is popular for tournaments and scrambles.

Future Champions Sports Complex

Future Champions Sports Complex caters to all levels of baseball and softball competition, ranging from youth recreational leagues to collegiate contests. Not your ordinary ballpark, all six infields are turfed making it virtually rain-out proof and allowing for play from February to November. The stadium-lighted facilities boast electronic scoreboards, concrete dugouts, a professional sound system, and a concession stand that offers everything from hot sandwiches to adult refreshments. 

Jacksonville Sportman’s Club

Jacksonville Sportman’s Club, open to the public, offers both registered and practice trap and sporting clay shooting. 

Jacksonville Speedway

The Jacksonville Speedway is a high banked ¼-mile dirt oval track located in the Morgan County Fairgrounds. Heart-pounding entertainment featuring Micro-Sprints, Street Stock, Pony Stock, Modifieds, late models and 305s is offered during the summer and early fall. 

Crazy Horse Campground

Located north of Jacksonville, Crazy Horse Campground is a family-oriented campground with lots of space to run and play. There’s even a camp store. Whether you want to fish from their stocked ponds, dabble in crafts, enjoy the planned activities, listen to live music on Saturdays, swim with your kids, or relax by the fire, fun is waiting for you.

Buena Vista Farms

Buena Vista Farms is a spacious, tranquil campground resort located three miles northwest of Jacksonville. They have full hook up RV sites with 60-foot wide yards, fully furnished tiny home cabins, and seasonal camping spots from April 1 to October 31. Two lakes offer ample space and opportunity for fishing, boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Other amenities include creekside and wooded hiking trails, asphalt surface roads and trails for biking, a playground, a basketball court, horseshoe pits, corn hole, croquet and other lawn games. Buena Vista Farms is also available for conferences, weddings, and other events.

Green Pastures Retreat Center

Green Pastures serves the communities in West Central Illinois by providing Christian retreat facilities, recreational land, and camp programs that foster spiritual development. Christian and community groups as well as individuals and families may reserve the facilities. The beautiful 41-acres grounds feature a fishing pond, several hiking paths, a shower house, dump station, amphitheater, and picnic area. Green Pastures has three full hookup RV sites and seven electric-only. Tents are welcomed. Accommodations include a 16-unit motel, two 40-bed bunkhouses, two efficiency-style cabins, and a family cottage. 

JREDC is Ready to Assist

Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation invites you to put down roots and grow your business in our supportive and progressive communities. Email JREDC or phone 217.479.4627 for more information. Follow JREDC on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.