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Local News

Joliet residents offer ideas for park district improvements

JOLIET – Several residents were positive toward Joliet park officials’ plans for widespread park improvements, but they also brought up other ways the park district could improve as well. 

On Tuesday, park officials in Joliet invited public input on a roughly $20.9 million plan to make a series of improvements to various facilities, parks and ground spaces. The plan also includes the construction of an all-purpose field house, a second ice skating rink and indoor recreation space at Nowell Park. 

Park officials are holding special sessions on their plans this week. Their next meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday at Joliet City Hall council chambers, 150 W. Jefferson St.

The project would be financed through bonds. The tax impact of the bonds would be about $1.80 a month for a $100,000 home. Park officials said the park district’s tax rate would still remain nearly 34 percent below what it was 20 years ago.

At about $6 million, park renovations and improvements would command most of the funds allocated toward the project. 

Dominic Egizio, the park district’s chief executive officer, said many of the parks are more than 20 years old. Maintaining the aging neighborhood and community parks is costly to the park district, he said. Some parks, such as Heggie Field, Mayor Art Schultz Park and Osgood Park, date back to 1991. 

“I think the age of the parks demonstrates that we have maintained them … but they have far exceeded their length expectancy,” Egizio said. 

Park officials also detailed how the funds for the rest of project would be allocated:

• $2 million for Pilcher Park infrastructure improvements.

• $500,000 for tree restorations.

• $250,000 for safety and security improvements.

• $280,000 for Joliet Memorial Stadium lighting improvements.

• $3.5 million for indoor training facility.

• $4 million for Nowell Park Community Center.

• $4.2 million for additional ice rink at Inwood Ice Area.

After the presentation, Joliet resident Roger Thompson suggested to park board members more bike path connections, video surveillance at parks to keep them safe and more trash containers at the parks. 

“Somebody complained about the lack of trash containers at some of the parks … it’s upsetting to find diapers scattered about because there’s no place to put the trash,” he said. 

He also recommended cheaper athletic youth activities, an idea similar to what Danielle Meintanis of Joliet suggested the park district should pursue. She lamented the high cost of activities for families with multiple children. 

“If you’re going to be building new facilities with all sorts of new programs, I’d like to see more family-friendly budget-wise ideas,” she said. 

She also added the indoor field house should have an indoor track open to the public for all types of uses.

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