MARSHALL, Il. (WTWO/WAWV) — For Mayor John Hasten, a goal of his is to increase the current population of Marshall. It currently sits at around 4000 people. A key to that initiative is by investing in current infrastructure.

Specifically, city parks.

A $200,000 addition and improvement park project includes lighting repairs, upgrading baseball field dugouts and the creation of a new basketball association for kids from preschool age through the sixth grade.

“This is not a 1950s Marshall, it’s a 2020s Marshall. It’s a Marshall that’s safe and that our kids can grow and feel safe,” the Mayor said.

This project is possible through gaming revenue tax, donations and other city accounts. The increase brings the city’s Park and Recreation Dept. budget to over half a million dollars by 2023.

Specifically, the upgrades will focus on $15,000 towards upgrading basketball rims near Robert Washburn Park, increased budgets for soccer and softball programs, new lighting at Forsythe fields and $30,000 at Collier Park.

Collier will entail a variety of additions, including sidewalks, picnic tables, landscaping and draining improvements.

“It’s a lot of little things. But, now is the best time to do it,” Councilman, Warren LeFever said.

He also added that investing in youth programs will help transform Marshall into a long-term stay destination.

“We not only have families here, but this gives kids something to do. It makes Marshall a great place to live and it is,” LeFever stated.

Agreeing with the councilman is Hasten, “We provide a lot of academic and athletics events for the youth. Now, with this money, we can provide more.”

The construction on current parks has already begun. The city plans to complete as many tasks as possible, weather permitting.

However, a new park on Marshall’s southside is awaiting a groundbreaking date. Last year, native and philanthropist, Gerald Forsythe donated 14 acres near Cherry Street to be developed into the next city park.

He asked the public to decide what goes in that space. More information can be found by clicking on the link below.

Over 600 surveys have been returned from community members stating what they’d like to see. The goal is to accommodate all ages.

“Specifically, we don’t want to duplicate services that are already in town,” Hasten added.

The new park is expected to cost around $5 million.