The village would like to take control of a small, almost hidden park along Harlem Avenue and turn the largely neglected site into a gateway property to welcome motorists coming into town from the Eisenhower Expressway.
The village recently made an informal proposal to the Park District asking that it transfer control of the small park, called Senior Citizens Park, to the village. The district doesn’t own the property, but is responsible for managing the site in accordance with a 100-year lease agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“We made a request for them to consider and we’re waiting for a response,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said.
The small “pocket park” sits almost unnoticed between Harlem and Elgin streets just north of Interstate 290. The only entrance to the small park is from Elgin Avenue.
The park is 98 feet long and 40 feet wide, according to Park District Executive Director Larry Piekarz. It contains a picnic table, a metal table and four chairs attached to the ground, one bench swing set, a park bench, and four trees.
The land is owned by IDOT. The Park District pays $1 a year to rent the space under the terms of the lease. Those terms would remain the same if the village takes over lease for the park, according to Calderone.
Piekarz said he welcomed the village’s interest.
“That’s a park we really haven’t been able to use for programming or anything so it’s just nice that the village is interested in sprucing it up and making it into another gateway into our village,” Piekarz said. “It’s great that the village and park are working together.”
Piekarz said he is in the process of researching the lease to make sure that such a transfer would be permitted.
The village is interested in adding a few amenities to the tiny park if it is able to gain control.
“It would continue as a pocket park,” Calderone said. “We are interested in enhancing the features of the park, adding some more benches, trees, and maybe a gazebo.”
The small park is the only property outside of the Park District’s main facility on Harrison Street that is operated by the district. The village currently owns and operates several small parks or tot lots at 16th and Circle, Lehmer and Circle, Randolph and Circle, and Thomas and Adams.
The Park District and the village are separate entities and levy their own taxes. Before control of the park could be transferred, an intergovernmental agreement will have to be hammered out between the village and the Park District.