More than 25 percent of the children in Fairmont City live below the poverty line

It’s called Kinder Park but you won’t see many children playing and you won’t hear much laughter at this tiny, outdated park in Fairmont City, Illinois. Officials at neighboring Gateway Motorsports Park and other area organizations are working to bring life back into a playground that hasn’t been updated since the 1950s.

“The children of Fairmont are in serious need of a safe, playful, happy park where they can forget about everything except being a kid,” said Fairmont City Mayor Alex J. Bregen. “Kinder Park is a great neighborhood park that has incredible potential for fun if we can provide a little bit of love to it.” The 15,810-square-foot park is located at the corner of Kinder Street and Cohn Avenue.

Known as the “city of good neighbors,” Fairmont City has a population of about 3,000 people and boasts the highest percentage of Hispanics in the entire St. Louis Metropolitan area, with 71 percent of the population of Hispanic descent according to the 2010 census. The city sits adjacent to Cahokia Mounds and is only about five minutes from downtown St. Louis. More than 25 percent of the city’s children live below the poverty line.

Jay Hoffman, member of the Illinois House of Representatives told Gateway Motorsports Park owner Curtis Francois about Kinder Park and the need for new, safe playground equipment after Francois mentioned his desire to give back to the community. “Children of all economic backgrounds need fun, safe, exciting places to play,” said Francois.  “When I learned about Kinder Park, I called a few business associates and asked for their support.  They jumped in willing and ready to assist with this need, and here we are today ready to get this playground rebuilt.”

What:              Groundbreaking ceremony

Where:             Kinder Park, Kinder Street and Cohn Avenue, Fairmont City, Illinois

When:              Friday, June 24, 2 p.m.

Who:               Gateway Motorsports Park and City officials, local business partners and the Boy Scouts of America

“We are proud to see Gateway Motorsports Park continue to play a leading role in their community and in motorsports with this important project,” said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Jim Cassidy.  “The people in the St. Louis region are incredible motorsports fans, and this initiative is a win for the entire community.”

NASCAR driver German Quiroga, from Mexico City will be attending the groundbreaking. Quiroga will pilot the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra in Saturday’s Drivin’ for Lineman 200 Brought To You By Altec.

In addition to Gateway Motorsports Park, several local companies have stepped up to support the park renovation including L. Keeley & Sons, Inc. of East St. Louis, IMPACT Strategies of Fairview Heights, and enVisionONE of Columbia, Iron Workers Local 392 of East St. Louis and the Fairmont City Police Athletic League.  The playground will undergo a complete facelift including new grass and landscaping, a new basketball court, two swing sets, a new playground set, rubber mulch, benches and picnic-style tables, a new 20-by-16-foot pavilion, handicap-accessible parking spaces, and bicycle parking racks for a total investment of more than $100,000.

Construction will begin in the next several weeks and the park should be ready for play by fall.