Public parks and green spaces in communities offer opportunities for recreation and relaxation, provide a habitat for plants and animals, and help give a community an aesthetic and historical identity. Benton’s park system and recreational areas encompass over thirty acres of land that may be enjoyed by the village’s residents and visitors.
Benton’s park pavilions and shelter houses are available for picnics, activities, and family gatherings. They may be reserved by contacting the Village Office at 608.759.3721.
The Village Park
Located on Highway 11 on the east side of Benton, the Village Park was originally the site of the 1852 St. Clara Academy, founded by the venerable Father Samuel Mazzuchelli. When the academy was moved to Sinsinawa and the remaining mission home destroyed by fire in 1896, the land on which the academy stood was subsequently sold to the village to be used as a park.
The Village Park sits on 7.7 acres of ground and at one time was home to bowery dances, band concerts in the gazebo, and even outdoor movies on Saturday nights. Today the park is not only home to the 1851 Schoolhouse Museum, but it also offers visitors picnic areas, a shelter house, public restrooms, and a tennis and basketball court. Separated from the park proper, but still part of the Village Park, is an open area located to the north, adjacent to Whaley Court. This large area is suitable for field sports such as baseball, football, and soccer.
New in 2009: Music in the Park, every Sunday evening in August , local people bring lawn chairs and a cooler to enjoy a variety of tunes played by local bands on the new bandstand that was possible through local donations of time and money.
Much of the village and school-sponsored recreational activities take place at Benton’s 11-acre Swift Park, located just below the school on Park Avenue. The park is named for Ray Swift—Benton teacher, historian, and town activist.
Swift Park has lighted football, baseball, and softball fields that are used for school activities, summer recreational leagues, and various other recreational uses of community residents. Two lighted tennis and basketball courts offer ample opportunity for tennis matches and pickup games of basketball.
Included in Swift Park are picnic areas, playground equipment, restroom facilities, and two covered pavilions. One of the pavilions is part of a new concession stand that was constructed in the summer of 2006. The Benton Booster Club sold engraved bricks to help fund the project, and those bricks, complete with names and messages, were used to build the front wall of the building. Additional names will be engraved on blank bricks as people continue to purchase them through the years. Those wishing to have names or memorials added may call the Village Office (608.759.3721) for contact information.
Across the Coon Branch Creek at the southern end of the park is the Boy Scout Camp. This area includes a cabin and recreation grounds that are accessed by a foot bridge. The cabin was built by the Boy Scouts and is used mainly for scouting-related activities, including scouts who take part in the annual Boy Scout Pilgrimage in Galena, Illinois.
New in 2009: New park equipment at swift park, thanks to a grant received from the Dubuque Racing Association and local donations of time and money.
Milton B. Wiseman Memorial Park
This small, green-space park is marked by a memorial plaque as a tribute to local area veterans. The highway-median area, dedicated as the Milton B. Wiseman Memorial Park, is filled with blossoming flowers during the summer and is commonly known to locals simply as “the island.”
Additional Recreation Areas
Benton’s school, located at 41 Alma Street, sits on almost 15 acres of land that provide an area for a number of recreational activities for the children of Benton. A large, hilly area to the east of the school is used for winter sledding and tobogganing, and a grassy area behind the school is used for a variety of games and team sports. Playground equipment and a basketball court provide a place for children to play during the school year and during the summer, as well.