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Adopt-a-Park program encourages public pride, commitment

Published: Saturday, July 13, 2013 9:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, July 14, 2013 8:37 p.m. CDT
(Matthew Piechalak)
Zachary Waxali, 12, plays catch with his father, Eric, at Lake Ellyn Park in Glen Ellyn on Friday, July 5, 2013. The Glen Ellyn Park District is working to create an "adopt-a-park" program, which would allow adopters to help with the upkeep of their village parks through organized clean-ups. Matthew Piechalak –

GLEN ELLYN – Even before an official application was available, Glen Ellyn Park District staff had already heard from community members interested in its new Adopt-a-Park program.

"I was expecting to have to go find people, and they've come to us," said Dan Hopkins, superintendent of parks and planning.

The program will offer community members the opportunity to take ownership of their neighborhood parks by regularly checking areas for trash and vandalism and organizing four larger volunteer projects each year for cleanup and planting.

Staff presented a proposal for the program to the park district's board of commissioners in June and received approval to pursue it. An application is now available on the park district's website.

Restoring parks' natural areas by clearing away invasive plants and introducing native species is one of the primary ways the district is seeking community help, Hopkins said.

Park district staff are developing checklists for those who adopt each of the district's parks to follow. Although some items will be similar for each location, there may be also be differences based on each park's specific needs and features, said Renae Frigo, park district naturalist.

The proposed tasks involved with the program would supplement what staff members are already doing, she said.

"They won't really be replacing staff, but they'll be enhancing and boosting and increasing the efforts a little bit," Frigo said.

In some cases, neighbors may already be doing many things the program involves, but this will give them the chance to be recognized for it, she added.

At Glen Ellyn Manor Park, for instance, volunteers helped to create a new playground area. Tha project served as part of the inspiration behind the Adopt-a-Park program.

The park district has already been contacted by community members interested in adopting that park. Residents have also expressed interesting in adopting Stacy Park, Babcock Grove Park, Prairie Path Park and Lake Foxcroft Park. All of the district's parks will be included in the program.

"(The goal is) just to help out and take pride in your neighborhood park," Hopkins said. "It's just a way to give back to the community."

The program is open to individuals and groups, such as neighborhoods, families, churches, youth groups, schools, businesses and other community organizations.

As program details continue to be determined, the park district is exploring including signage at each of the parks with the name of the individual or group that has agreed to adopt it.

The park district is confident the program will continue to receive a positive response from the community, now that the official application is available.

"I'm just really pleased people have come forward and want to help with the program," Hopkins said. "I have a good feeling it's really going to take off, and soon enough, we'll have all the parks adopted."

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