The state’s top parks and recreation groups recently bestowed the Roos Recreation Center the annual “Outstanding Facility” award, recognizing the facility’s achievement in design and development of programming. Jackie Iovinelli, executive director of the Park District of Forest Park, said this is the first time a facility in Forest Park has received the award. 

“We did not expect it; we’re just overwhelmed with excitement,” Iovinelli said of the Illinois Association of Park Districts in conjunction with the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, which named Roos the top “Renovation and New Overlook Project” in 2018. 

Iovinelli said the park district applied for the award in October, writing about the community’s need for the facility, outlining grant funding for the project, and more. 

“We just explained to them the open space and obviously the need for a gymnasium and fitness center in this area, in this community. That’s been proven with the 2,000 memberships sold,” Iovinelli said. “We haven’t even been open a year, and we proved to them a need in the community for this facility and all the new services we’re able to offer because we never had a gymnasium.” 

Iovinelli said “several” municipalities applied for the award, although she wasn’t sure of the exact number. After receiving the award, however, she said other park districts have been congratulating Forest Park and looking at the Roos facility when thinking about their own upcoming projects. 

“For the community, it just shows that we’re going to maintain this service, that there is a need for this service, that we have set our standards high because we believe the residents deserve this,” she said. “Not only do we believe it, the state of Illinois believes it’s an outstanding facility. I think residents should be proud to have that in our town.”

Nona Tepper