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EDWARDSVILLE - Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton, city officials, donors and children of the community who will benefit from The R.P. Lumber Center, broke ground and had a day to remember at Edwardsville’s new recreational development last week.

The future site of The R.P. Lumber Center, behind Edwardsville High School is off Tiger Drive and Governors’ Parkway in Edwardsville.

The R.P. Lumber Center is part of the City of Edwardsville’s “A Better Place to Play” campaign launched in 2015 to raise money for the development of three new parks – the completed Leon Corlew Park and splash pad, Plummer Family Sports Park and now a recreational complex and ice rink.

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton said eight years ago when he took office, he was determined to improve the city’s parks and in the past eight years, he pointed out some additions:

- The spray and play park

- Four new baseball diamonds

- Six soccer fields

- 12 Pickleball courts

- 218 acres of new greenspace

Mayor Patton is handing over the mayor reigns to Art Risavy soon, but part of his legacy will be the huge park expansion in the City of Edwardsville. Patton was beaming with pride over what had been accomplished at the groundbreaking ceremony.

He said the new ice rink/rec center is "an incredible opportunity in this wonderful community.”

Mayor Patton remembered his days on ponds and learning to skate and play hockey as one of his motivations for a nice new rink.

“We could barely wait for the ponds to freeze to play hockey back in my childhood,” he said.

The Edwardsville hockey team was present. Patton talked with pride about the team’s success on a national scope. The mayor pointed out the Edwardsville team has been invited to the national championships multiple times. Mayor Patton also talked of the pride he has in the partnerships with the Village of Glen Carbon, including the new rink/rec center.

The Better Place to Play push started in 2014 and after several roadblocks, Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved the grant application for Edwardsville’s project, Patton said. Several large donors also came forward. R.P. Lumber has the naming rights for the center and has offered pivotal support, along with several other clubs, businesses and organizations.

Anyone interested in learning more about the “A Better Place to Play” campaign can find information online at https://www.cityofedwardsville.com/ or call (618) 692-7538.

“A Better Place to Play” can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abetterplacetoplay and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BP2Play.

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If you have a news, human interest or sports idea, e-mail Danbrannan@riverbender.com or call or text 618-623-5930. Follow Dan Brannan on Facebook and on Twitter.

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