By Kelly White
Beautiful park weather is upon us and Palos Heights is ready.
Palos Heights city officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony last Wednesday afternoon at Palmer Park, 123rd Street and 73rd Avenue.
“With this being an inclusive playground and park redevelopment project we were able to complete during one of the toughest years of anyone’s lives, it is incredibly satisfying to provide this to the residents of Palos Heights and hopefully bring some smiles on people’s faces,” Matt Fairbanks, Director of Parks and Recreation, said.
The renovation began in February of 2019. The Palos Heights Recreation Department was awarded an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant from the State of Illinois. The OSLAD Program is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space. This is managed through the state of Illinois’s Department of Natural Resources.
The Palos Heights Parks and Recreation Department applied for the development/renovation grant and was awarded in late 2018.The result was that the department received a grant of $337,775 for the redevelopment of Palmer Park. The total cost of the project was $675,550.
Upland Design was the landscape architect and Integral Construction were the winning bid contractors for the project.
The Palmer Park Redevelopment project includes an ADA compliant inclusive playground and playground surface, which makes the playground accessible to guests in wheelchairs and allows children of all abilities and developmental stages to play in the same space together. An inclusive playground provides the just-right level of challenge, addresses all levels of ability, and goes beyond minimum accessibility to create play experiences that meet a variety of needs and interests.
The park also includes new basketball courts, a pollinator garden, bocce ball court, paved loop trail, practice soccer field, and a practice ball field.
These updates along with the previously completed tennis and pickleball courts will make for a great park in Palos Heights, according to Palos Heights city officials.
“We’re trying to make life better for the people of Palos Heights,” Ald. Jeff Key said.
The old playground equipment was removed and donated to Kids Around the World, a Rockford organization that relocates playground equipment to countries around the world for children in need.
The former playground equipment is now being used in Kenya, Africa.
In attendance at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony were Mayor Bob Straz; aldermen Key, Donald Bylut, Jack Clifford, Delores Kramarski, and Brett Lewandowski; Recreation Advisory Board members Lynda Schiappa, Tim Cronin, Denise Hyker; School District 128 Supt. Merryl Brownlow; and Worth Park District Executive Director Robert O’Shaughnessy.
Local members of the community were also invited to attend the event where masks and social distancing guidelines were adhered to.
“This continuation of our commitment to provide and enhance the recreation offerings to the residents of Palos Heights,” Straz, said. “We have upgraded the facilities and programs for all ages.”