Lytle Park has been serving recreational needs of city residents since 1914. There are many opportunities to enjoy nature, fitness, play, relaxation, and recreation. Looking toward the next 100 years of recreation for Mattoon residents, the Lytle Park Master Plan, completed in 2012, takes the goals and objectives articulated by Justin Grady and the Park Board and turns them into action items that embrace sustainability.
Building off existing uses within the park, the goal is to weave together new features with old using art, nature, culture, and sustainability. Through the restoration of native ecosystems to managing on-site stormwater, the ideas engendered in each new amenity within Lytle Park collectively represent its commitment to being recognized as an educator of sustainability.
In 2014, the park received an OSLAD (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for $400,000. The grant will help support a new pavilion and restroom, Nature-Based Playscapes, and New Active Green Environment amenities, all items identified in the Master Plan.
Today, the park has a new pavilion built from salvaged lumber; rain is collected in a below-ground cistern to flush its toilets, solar panels offset electrical consumption within the restroom, and energy-efficient mechanical equipment offsets energy use. The Nature-Based Playscape is made from 100% recycled round timber and allows kids, and adults, to climb on apparatus that has been handcrafted from white oak, osage orange, and black locust tree trunks and branches. The New Active Green Environment will cater to senior citizens. The yoga circle, bird feeders, inclined walkways, bird baths, and raised garden beds are all designed to strengthen muscle groups that are normally not used on a regular basis. Seniors will be exercising without even knowing it. And native plant gardens will attract pollinators, infiltrate, and absorb rain, and teach residents about the importance of native plants.