The historic Austin Town Hall, long a hub for community activity, was the beneficiary of a $450,000 Parks and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) program grant earlier this month. The funds will go toward rehabilitating the building’s exterior and interior so that it complies with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The total cost of the project, which is being carried out by the Chicago Park District, is approximately $1 million. 

“Exterior improvements include accessible pathways to the facility and entrances; accessible seating; a tiered, accessible drinking fountain; and an automatic door operator at the main entrance,” according to a statement released by then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s office. 

“Interior improvements include upgrades to women’s and men’s toilet and locker rooms, a new companion care restroom on the first floor and the installation of two chair lifts to access the swimming pool and the auditorium balcony. Most spaces will include new signs, door hardware, handrails and detectable warnings at stair landings to comply with ADA requirements,” the statement read. 

“Investing in local park districts is an investment in the future of Illinois communities,” said Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “This facility in the Austin community will help maintain a high quality of life that is vital for attracting young families.” 

“This grant is especially important to the 1st District because it will help reduce violence by giving children a place to participate in recreation and art after school,” said Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin. 

The PARC program grant is funded by Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! construction program and is designed to provide capital funding for park districts throughout the state. 

“The PARC program may provide up to 75 percent of approved project costs, with the exception of local governments defined as ‘disadvantaged,’ which will be eligible for up to 90 percent funding,” according to the statement released by former Gov. Quinn’s office.