Collaboration Celebration Highlights Revitalization Efforts at Levings Park

For nine days, more than 2,900 volunteers helped expand and improve Levings Park amenities while building unity and relationships along the way.

Since 2007, Rockford Sharefest has done major makeovers in Rockford public schools, and last summer, Alpine Park received a makeover. This year, Rockford Sharefest 2017 took place at Levings Park, 1420 S. Pierpont Ave., Rockford, a culturally diverse park that has helped many families over the years create memories that will last a lifetime. Rockford Sharefest exists to identify, develop, and lead projects that empower and release volunteers to make an impact for the common good.

Over the past two months, the Rockford Park District, City of Rockford, Winnebago County, West Rock Wake Park, Southwest Ideas for Today and Tomorrow (SWIFTT), and Rockford Sharefest along with church leaders, businesses, and residents worked together to refurbish, restore, and upgrade Levings Park. Enhancing and expanding opportunities at Levings Park is all part of a multi-year Master Plan by the Rockford Park District. Improvements made as a result of the work completed during Rockford Sharefest are part of Phase 2 of the Master Plan.

“Each time we come together for Rockford Sharefest, we accomplish something that nobody thought was possible. Levings Park provided an amazing opportunity for us to make a difference, by bringing residents to this park and asking everyone to dig in and help, we created community. Volunteers donated their gifts, abilities, and resources to rebuild Levings Park, making it even better,” said Creig Day, Director of Rockford Sharefest. Some of the main leads of Rockford Sharefest spent 16 hours a day at Levings Park from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“What was accomplished in a week would have taken months, maybe years for the Rockford Park District to complete. Every aspect of Levings Park has been touched and we can’t thank Rockford Sharefest volunteers enough for their willingness to take down trees, paint, build a playground or provide hospitality to those volunteering throughout the park. Close to 50,000 visitors enjoyed Levings Park in 2016, and that number is only expected to grow thanks to the revitalization efforts. Levings Park is more than just a lake, it’s a destination,” said Rockford Park District Assistant Executive Director Jay Sandine.


Rockford Sharefest Highlights:

  • 254 dead ash trees removed due to Emerald Ash Borer
  • 198 picnic tables painted and fixed
  • 25 benches painted and fixed
  • 20 Biohaven® floating wetland/islands assembled
  • 8 bleachers painted and restored
  • 7 shelters painted
  • 6 new wood tables built out of removed ash trees
  • 4 new roofs put on shelters and boathouse
  • 4 new grills with covers
  • 2 new dumpster corral fences
  • New playground built in cooperation with Healing Communities, Rockford Park District Police along with other area law enforcement, and Levings Park neighbors
  • Bathrooms painted
  • Complete renovation of beach house
  • Improvements made to boathouse, including new railings
  • Removed baseball and tennis court, future sight of wetlands. Additional basketball court on-site was resealed and restriped
  • Tennis court on-site will now be used for Futsal, a variation of football played on a hard court
  • New sign at West Rock Wake Park – designed and built by Rockford Sharefest volunteer
  • Power washed stone entry signage and planted flowers
  • Expanded current concert area
  • Painted trash cans and maintenance sheds

What’s Next at Levings Park

  • West Rock Wake Park Expansion - Construction is underway for a larger full-size cable system that will allow West Rock Wake Park to accommodate 60 to 100 riders a day. West Rock is northern Illinois’ premier wakeboarding facility, and will be a full-sized cable park managing up to 6–7 riders at any given time, versus one rider in the current system. This environmentally friendly cable technology allows individuals without the means to a boat to experience the water at an affordable price. It provides access to all citizens regardless of their economic status. West Rock expects the expansion to be complete later this summer.
  • Continued Fundraising for Concert Venue Improvements - A more permanent concert venue is currently in the engineering and design phase, but might include a new wood stage with overhead roof structure, additional concrete pads for vendors and entertainers, expanded seating, and shade structures. The Rockford Park District Foundation will continue to work towards raising $400,000 for a new concert venue.
  • Continued Water Quality Improvements – Additional water quality improvements such as 31 more BioHaven® Floating Islands, filter strips, native aquatic plantings, and additions to existing silt basin will help prevent phosphorous and sediment from entering Levings Lake from upstream sources and treat phosphorous and sediment already circulating within the lake. If nothing is done, nuisance algae blooms will be a problem, sediment will build, and the fish habitat will suffer.

About Levings Park Master Plan

The Rockford Park District believes in providing park space that meets the recreational needs of this and succeeding generations. The following details each of the four phases of the Levings Park Master Plan and funding opportunities. The majority of Phase Two is being completed thanks to a donation received from the Perks Family Foundation of $250,000. “The Levings Park project is a master’s thesis on how to build community through collaboration and collective impact, providing an insightful model for the regeneration of Rockford,” said Jim Keeling, Perks Family Foundation representative. The City of Rockford (led by Alderman Venita Hervey) and Winnebago County (led by County Board Representative Dorothy Redd) each committed $15,000 toward Phase Two of the project. Additional fundraising opportunities have been identified, and the Rockford Park District Foundation will work on raising $400,000 for a new concert venue.

Levings Cost Chart


History of Levings Park

1919 - Thomas Goodsman Levings donated his 135-acre farm with Kent Creek running through it to Rockford Park District

1928 - Park Commissioners voted to renovate Levings Park and the Kent Creek dam to create a lake

1935 - 700 men in the Federal Workforce Progress Administration program built a dam, and hand dug a large area for Levings Lake, and Levings Park officially opened to the public

Current Park Amenities

  • 135 acres of parkland
  • 22-acre lake with sand beach and beach house
  • Home to West Rock Wake Park, with concession building
  • Two free summer concert series – Live at Levings and Domingos en el Parque
  • Levings Lakers – a free fishing program that educates youth ages 6–12 on casting, proper use of fishing equipment, and core values
  • Fishing areas
  • Water sports
  • 1.3-mile paved roadway
  • Stone boathouse
  • Stone shelter
  • Three pavilion shelters
  • Two playgrounds
  • Basketball and tennis courts


For the Rockford Park District to be the best urban park and recreation system in North America, as measured by national standards and the citizens we serve.


To 'help people enjoy life' by providing a quality park and recreation system.

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