The St. Charles County Parks system is relatively young, as parks systems go. St. Charles County was organized in 1812, but it wasn’t until 1997 that voters approved a dedicated local use tax with the purpose of park land acquisition, development, operations, and maintenance. The system has grown over the years with new acquisitions of land and development. Since 2007, park acreage has increased more than 70 percent.
We owe that to the voters who approved the tax, but also to many St. Charles County residents who, over the years, have donated land to be used to further our parks system. We are grateful to all of them.
Just this past month, we learned of the passing of Mrs. Nancy Knowles. She and her husband, Bill, had donated land to the County for the future development of Spring Bend Park, located off Upper Bottom Road, overlooking the Missouri River. This beautiful piece of property has been held in reserve for several years and it was Mrs. Knowles desire for the property to be used as natural parkland after her death. As a provision of the donation, more than 100 acres will remain natural parkland with trails. On land the County purchased adjacent to the property, the Parks Department will develop a parking lot, restrooms and a playground. The park encompasses 126 acres in total.
Our deepest sympathies to the Knowles family. The park will be a wonderful reminder of the generosity Mr. and Mrs. Knowles extended to the residents of this county.
Similarly, in 2006, Dolores Freymuth donated 91 acres of family land northwest of O’Fallon to the County. She lived there her entire life did not want to land to go to developers. Giving it to the County for a park ensured her property would be reserved. The land will one day be turned into Freymuth Park.
Over the years, more than 415 acres of land have been donated to the County for parkland, including the 109-acre Towne Park in Foristell; 75 of the 403 acres at The Park at New Melle Lakes; 3 acres for Flatwoods Park off Highway Y in O’Fallon; and 11 acres for the Dardenne Greenway Project. The latter was donated by Mark Keeven of Keeven Brothers, LP, and is key to completing gaps between existing segments of the Greenway, which is overseen by Great Rivers Greenway to connect communities together through parks, trails, and open spaces.
Today, St. Charles County Parks has 18 open parks; Spring Bend Park will be number 19. Two parks properties – Freymuth, and Hackmann in St. Paul – remain in reserve. Nearly 4,350 acres are maintained by our Parks Department for the enjoyment of St. Charles County residents and visitors alike. Park attendance was more than 4.3 million in 2022 and continues to grow.
I’m tremendously proud of our parks system and am grateful to those who have donated land for others to enjoy. If you haven’t been to our County parks, I encourage you to visit one or all of them. Each offers unique amenities, views of nature and an abundance of fresh air! You can find them all by visiting stccparks.org.