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Oak Lawn parks on the upswing

Work continues Memorial Park one several parks being renovated Oak Lawn.  |  Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

Work continues at Memorial Park, one of several parks being renovated in Oak Lawn. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Construction, not recreation, has seemed to be the theme at the Oak Lawn Park District properties this year.

But come 2014, when the dust clears, park users will have plenty of new highlights awaiting them, park district officials believe.

Memorial Park is one example, park district director Maddie Kelly said recently.

“We’re adding walking trails. It used to be called Rocket Slide Park, and we’re putting in a whole new rocket ship, a splash pad with a rocket ship theme. The bathrooms are being renovated there, too,” she said.

Park users have not seemed to mind a little upsetting of their routines. A recent visit to Memorial Park found three kids and their grandfather content to kick around a soccer ball on the green lawn near the playground.

Few complaints have been heard, Kelly said.

“Not too bad, because they know what’s coming. We have a big sign up and they can see what’s happening there ... bring it back to what it used to be in its glory days,” she said.

The Community Pavilion has a new gym.

“We’re also renovating the lobby area and the entire front. It’s not going to be open until probably mid-November,” Kelly said.

“This was the first year for a whole new splash pad at Centennial Pool and it’s absolutely beautiful. We have all the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) modifications and it’s really a family destination. (We are) trying to keep up with the (other water parks) in the area,” Kelly said.

New pathways, an interpretative education area, viewing platforms and interpretive signage are on tap for the Chicago Ridge Prairie, which — despite the name — is indeed an Oak Lawn Park District property.

“It’s really exciting. There are very few prairies left in the state of Illinois,” Kelly said of the site at 105th Street and Menard Avenue.

“We got grant money to restore part of the prairie where trash had been dumped, restoring it to what it used to look like. We plan on opening it up to the residents. It’s exciting,” Kelly said.

“It’s a little plot of land, but it is nationally known. We have botanists from all over Illinois who come there to study. This is exciting because we’ll be able to bring families over there when the renovations are finished,” she said.



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