Dekker: Park names provide a glimpse of history
By Julie Dekker Citizen Journalistemail@example.com June 21, 2012 12:58PM
Once a part of the Siemsen family farm, Centennial Lake is now a recreation area and reservoir for the Tinley Park community. | Supplied Photo
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:10AM
Tinley Park isn’t known as “the village of parks,” but it certainly could be.
Since its establishment in 1967, the Tinley Park Park District has grown to include more than 40 parks and facilities that encompass more than 420 acres.
While riding my bike on these beautiful summer evenings, I like to go down streets I normally don’t drive, just to see what’s there. I’ve run across some parks and playgrounds that are named after people of whom I’ve never heard.
Call me curious, but I like to know things like that, so I’ve done a little research. Some of the parks’ names were easy to figure out, like Kiwanis Park or Jaycee Grove. Our town has a rich history of service groups; volunteers from them helped build the parks.
Memorial Park is named for World War II veterans, while Veterans Park honors all veterans. We have Buedingen Park that is named for our sister city in Germany. McAuliffe Park honors teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who died Jan. 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff.
Many of our parks are named after Tinley residents who were active in and contributed a great deal to the community.
McCarthy Park is named for Joseph McCarthy, who was a village trustee and active in youth services and the park district.
Deinert Park is named for Corrine Deinert, who had a long history with the park district and served as its president.
Rich Gory also was a park district commissioner and Jaycee who had Gory Park named after him.
Rauhoff Park is for Robert Rauhoff, an early postmaster.
Fulton Park honors Bert Fulton, who served many in offices in the school system, was a tax collector for the town and was the first recorded birth in Tinley Park.
“Moose” Nasebandt Park was named after Eric Nasebandt, who was involved with youth sports. He managed, coached and played baseball here more than 35 years.
Siemsen Meadows is a 65-acre parcel that is kept as a natural environment. Its many paths are enjoyed by people and dogs. It is named for Hilbert Siemsen, whose family arrived here in 1867 and purchased 400 acres near 167th and Harlem. Six generations of the Siemsen family lived on that land; the family’s last farm house was torn down in 2007.
Through the years of farming, family members found many artifacts, such as arrowheads, hatchets and stone tools — evidence that Indians once lived there.
I spoke to one of our park’s namesakes, Ron Centanni, a longtime Tinley Park resident. He has been active with youth programs for many years and served as a Park District board commissioner for 12 years.
“It is an honor and distinction to have a park named after you, and I really appreciate the recognition,” Centanni said.
You may not know the impact these people have made on Tinley Park, but the parks show their contributions were important to the community. Their legacies are not just the parks that bear their names, but how their actions helped make Tinley what it is today.