Service clubs nationwide are known for establishing parks
or financing improvements, and those in DeKalb County are no
exception. Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs have spent hundreds
of thousands of dollars over the years to build or enhance parks
The DeKalb Kiwanis, founded in 1921, has a long history
of charitable and community betterment work, one of the prime
examples being Kiwanis Park, a 41-acre parcel at the corner of
South Fourth Street and Fairview Drive. In 1974, the club established
the park on land owned by the Fairview Park Cemetery Association.
At first they leased the land, eventually improving it for soccer
fields, then built a shelter and installed a water line for a
In 2001 the shelter house at the park was dedicated
in honor of Kiwanian Harold Wright who was unable to attend due
to poor health. Shown at the ceremony are from left John Launer,
Harolds daughter Sue and husband Peter Freitas, the late
Al Golden and Jim Morel. She is holding the Tablet of Honor recognizing
60 years of Harolds active involvement in Kiwanis. (Photo
Later, the park was taken over by the DeKalb Park District
to better maintain the fields, and then the DeKalb school district
bought it, intending to build a new high school on the site.
But when the new high school was constructed on Dresser Road,
the school district looked at swapping the park for a parcel
adjacent to their new school, owned by ShoDeen developers. ShoDeen
would then be allowed to build housing on the park site. But
Kiwanians and other concerned citizens rose up to protest the
swap. Past Kiwanis President Jim Morel told me that they have
invested nearly $100,000 in that park over the years and hope
to see it kept as a park and improved.
The DeKalb Park District recently hosted a public hearing
for input on what uses might be considered for the parcel. At
present, DeKalb AYSO soccer is the main customer and pays an
annual fee, as do other soccer groups that play there. Park District
Executive Director Amy Doll told me the next step is for their
consultant to come up with one main option for them to consider.
She said a commercial use is not on the table, correcting an
earlier story that used the word instead of community.
There is space for more than soccer. Winter sports also
could be considered, in my opinion. How about bringing in fill
for a sledding hill, then install a portable water slide in the
summer, using the same slope? Of course, a bunny slope
for beginning skiers also is a possibility. Cross-country skiing
and snowmobile paths around the perimeter are other options,
but with the lack of snow, this could be very limited. Id
like to see a large skating rink where ice hockey could be played.
But it would have to be much larger than the dinky one that failed
at the corner of North First and Locust streets in DeKalb a couple
of years ago. Maybe some portable lighting powered by generators
could be added for evening skating or sledding.
So thats my two cents. Thanks to the Kiwanians for
preserving this open space and following it all these years to
be sure it isnt sold. While I am at it, there also should
be kudos for Sycamore and the County Forest Preserve District
for developing a nicely designed open-space area where the old
mobile home park once stood in the flood plain.