PONTIAC -- Pontiac leaders are collecting ideas for a renovation to the basketball court at Lions Park, thanks to a $35,000 grant from Coca-Cola.

"We have a lot of ideas and are working with the Lions Club, the neighborhood and even some local artists to come up with a plan," said Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Hayner.

The grant was awarded to the city for finishing among the top seven in a Facebook popularity poll. Fourteen other parks received $20,000 for renovations as part of a Coca-Cola multiyear program to build and restore park environments where teens, families and neighbors have been active.

The Pontiac park finished second in the voting behind a park in Kokomo, Ind. It was the only Illinois location ranked among the top 21.

Someone from the Lions Park neighborhood submitted the nomination. "That's what makes Pontiac great," said Mayor Bob Russell. "People step up and get involved to help the community."

The residents should be proud of their efforts, said Sprite spokesman Augusto Elias. "Our goal with this project is to ensure that communities all over the country have safe and fun places where people can get active and play," he said.

Sprite partnered with NBA player LeBron James to kick off the program last spring. Sprite company leaders traveled to Pontiac on Oct. 14 to present an oversized check to the city.

The real check will arrive once renovations are complete. Hayner said specifics have not been decided.

"In order to receive the grant money, anything we do has to be functional and creative," Hayner said. "One idea that is gaining support is to have some kind of art with a lion wearing a referee's shirt. We have had several other great ideas, but we have to remember that this grant is to be used for the basketball court."

Anyone with ideas or suggestions is asked to call the Parks Department at 815-844-6818. Hayner said he hopes to have the renovations complete by spring.

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