Here's the scoop on the Westmont Park District
Jun 04, 2015 11:26AM
By Katelyn Nelson
Take time for fun!
That’s the motto for Illinois State Parks and Rec! Recreation is a vital part of a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle. One of the primary goals of the Westmont Park District is to protect open land and park space for the recreational use of Westmont residents. The Westmont Park District does its part to provide recreation opportunities with its programs, special events, recreation facilities, and parks. The Westmont Park District boasts more than 20 parks and open play spaces consisting of over 150 acres.
“We have a lot of pride in our parks and our community,” says Diane Main, Westmont Park Board President. “Our board has more than 150 years combined experience and I think our team has done a great job for our residents.” Main’s commitment to service and passion for parks has transcended the local level. In January, she was elected to be the Chairman of the Illinois Association of Park Districts. She was recently interviewed for a video project that will be shared with all IPRA & IAPD members, thus letting the entire state know that Westmont is a leader when it comes to parks and recreation.
The Westmont Park District was formed in April 1959 by a referendum. The first year budget was $20,000, which was used to create Kiwanis Park on N. Park St. and LeBeck Park at Richmond and Lincoln St. Shortly thereafter, the park district purchased land from the American Legion, which became Veterans Memorial Park at 75 E. Richmond St.
In the early 70’s, the park district developed a master plan, which was instrumental in the passage of a referendum that supplied the funds for the acquisition and development of property that became Twin Lakes Park at 59th St. and Williams, Sentinel Park, and Fritz Werley Park The referendum also funded the construction of the Westmont Park District Community Center at 75 E. Richmond. The first full-time employee and executive director was hired in 1974. In 1977, the park district purchased the William L. Gregg house, which was the oldest structure in the community and slated for demolition, and relocated it to Veterans Memorial Park. The Gregg House, 115 S. Linden Ave., is now a museum housing Westmont’s historical collection and is home to the Westmont Historical Society.
In the 1980’s, the park district added numerous properties including Lions Park, Deer Creek, Williams Cove Park, Rotary Park, Mertz Park, Muddy Waters Park, Blackhawk Park, and Oakwood Park adjacent to Westmont Jr. High School. In 1984 the park district purchased Twin Lakes Golf Course, located at 400 W. 59th St., which features a 9-hole course on a 26-acre site.
In the 1990’s, the Park District acquired the former Westmont Library at 55 E. Richmond, which is now the location of the park district’s administrative offices and the Westmont Senior Center. Other new properties included Bellerive Park on West 63rd St., Twin Lakes Woods, Wilderness Park, and the Westmont Fitness Club at 424 Plaza Dr., which features a full-size gym, workout facility with free weights and machines, racquetball courts, and more.
On July 4, 2000, the park district debuted Ty Warner Park to the community. Ty Warner Park is a 35-acre multi-purpose park on the north side of the community at the intersection of Blackhawk and Plaza Dr. The park features a large concert gazebo, baseball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, kid’s spray park, picnic pavilion, two playgrounds, sled hill, veterans memorial, fountain, concession stand and more. Approximately $12 million was donated by Ty, Inc., the company that created Beanie Babies, to the park district to develop and maintain the property and purchase an additional five acres.
The Westmont Park District offers a wide range of programs for all ages throughout the year. The Wildcat Youth Football and Cheer Program provides opportunities for hundreds of grade-school-aged children to participate in an award-winning program that produced a National Cheer Squad Championship team in 2014. The Biddy Basketball Program is as much fun for the kids as it is for the parents and families who attend the games—it’s a great way to learn a love for the game of basketball. And the Before & After School Kid’s Club is another very successful program that offers recreational opportunities for kids throughout the school year.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Westmont Park District’s affiliation with the Progressive Village Performance Network (PVPN). “PVPN is the epitome of what community theater is all about,” says Steve Golembiewski, who will be promoted to the role of Westmont Park District Superintendent of Recreation in September. “Our group is comprised of hard-working residents who share a passion for theater. The group invites people of all ages and abilities to get involved. No one is ever turned away.” Their website is pvpn4fun.org.
The Westmont Park District hosts and assists with numerous successful community events and parades throughout the year. The 4th of July Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks Spectacular at Ty Warner Park is witnessed by more than 10,000 people each year and features one of the best fireworks celebration in the Chicagoland area. Each October, the park district transforms Twin Lakes Woods into the Spooktacular Haunted Forest Trail, which provides thrills and chills for all ages. And starting the weekend after Thanksgiving, our annual Holly Days Winter Festival provides a month of winter-themed fun activities including the Frosty & Friends Parade and annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The park district publishes an activities brochure which is distributed to every home in the community three times a year. Information regarding programs and services can also be found on the park district website at WestmontParks.org. Residents are also encouraged to call or stop by the Park District Community Center for programming information.
There are many exciting changes coming up for the Westmont Park District. Ron Gunter, the Westmont Park District’s Executive Director, who also was elected Mayor of Westmont in 2013, will retire in the spring of 2016 and the reins of the organization will be handed over to lifelong Westmont resident and current Superintendent of Parks and Planning Bob Fleck. The park district has developed succession and transition plans that will help ensure that Westmont parks and recreation are in good hands for years to come.
“It’s all about community service,” says Gunter. “Over the years, the park has developed strong relationships with our schools, community service organizations, the business community, and other public agencies. By working together, we can achieve more for our citizens.” Gunter adds, “We’re passionate about Westmont. I’m always amazed and thankful for the many people who step forward to become involved. It’s exciting. I’ve been blessed to have lived, worked, and raised my family in Westmont.”
Check out these events coming up at the Park District:
Let’s celebrate the start of summer with flowers, fun, music and tasty ice cream at the Gregg House Museum Garden. You’ll have a chance to meet our expert gardeners from The Garden Club ... Read More »
This summer, kids ages 4–12 can experience what life was like as an early settler on the great frontier, meet a blacksmith or see the native Illinois wildlife with their Passport of Adven... Read More »
The show will run for three weekends in June, with Friday and Saturday evening performances as well as Sunday matinees. For dates, times and ticket information, please see pvpn4fun.org. Read More »
We’ve got six great, FREE concerts showcasing a variety of music! Bring your picnic baskets, lawn chairs, blankets and dance moves to our parks and enjoy an evening of outdoor entertainme... Read More »
We will be lighting up the skies with bigger and better fireworks than ever! Come early to enter the Red, White, & Blue Family Spirit Contest, buy a barnyard bingo deed, or have fun tryi... Read More »