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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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What’s the future for Kiwanis Park?

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist.............................December 15, 2017

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 here.

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 drinking fountain.

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, Harold’s daughter Sue and husband Peter Freitas, the late Al Golden and Jim Morel. She is holding the Tablet of Honor recognizing 60 years of Harold’s active involvement in Kiwanis. (Photo provided)

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. I’d 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 that’s my two cents. Thanks to the Kiwanians for preserving this open space and following it all these years to be sure it isn’t 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.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115