Lipinski Helps Oak Lawn Open New And Improved Pavilion
DesPlaines Valley News
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, state Rep. Kelly Burke and Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury were among the elected officials who joined local residents of all ages at the official grand reopening of the Oak Lawn Community Pavilion on Saturday morning.
Oak Lawn Village Clerk Jane Quinlan and Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th), a former Park District commissioner, were also there for the 10 a.m. ribbon cutting, which kicked off three hours of music, food and other festivities.
PrivateBank sponsored the event at the Pavilion at 9401 S. Oak Park Ave.
Residents and elected officials alike cheered when Tom Hartwig, manager of the Pavilion, cut the ribbon, with Sue Murphy, president of the Oak Lawn Park District and Park District staff members.
“This is a great accomplishment. It is a great addition to Oak Lawn ... not just for the kids but for people of all ages,” said Lipinski (D-3rd), describing the village as “a tremendous community.”
“This is a groundbreaking day for us,” said Murphy, who credited the park district staff for making it possible to keep the facility open throughout the work.
“We’ve needed a new gym for so long,”?she said, noting that in addition to the 21,500-square-foot gym, the lobby where the ribbon cutting was held is also new. A 6,500-square-foot multiuse room, and new bathrooms, including a sauna, were also added.
Along with the existing indoor 1/8-mile walking track and fitness center used year-round, the expanded Pavilion features eight volleyball courts, two sand volleyball courts, four regulation basketball courts
and four badminton courts.
Besides the indoor soccer rink, and outdoor soccer field, there are also four lit softball fields and a picnic pavilion.
While the new gym was built on formerly open space, a new sledding hill — not yet open — has been built out of the soil taken from the site Scott Harper, CFO?of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said he was there on behalf of Gov. Pat Quinn.
“Thank you to Rep. Burke and her colleagues in the state Legislature for making this possible,”?said Harper.
He noted that funding for the $2.5 million project came out of the state’s $31 billion capital improvement program.
“I’m really glad we can see the results of spending money the right way,” said Harper.
It was pointed out that Oak Lawn was second only to Chicago in the amount of money received through the capital program, which Harper described as a jobs program that helped Illinois recover from the
“This is exciting. It’s been needed for a long time,”?said Bury. “The park district has done a great job.”
“What an addition this is for Oak Lawn. And not just Oak Lawn, because people from a lot of other communities use this facility too,” said Village Clerk Jane Quinlan.
“The park district is phenomenal. We are really lucky to have this Pavilion here.”
Burke (D-36th) toured the facility after the ribbon cutting, and like seemingly everyone else who came in for a look-around, was impressed by the expanded facility.
Hartwig and the other park district personnel were praised for their work, keeping the facility open throughout the construction.
Regular Saturday morning activities were going on during the ribbon cutting, including children’s indoor soccer and the George Shimko Basketball School was being held in the new gymnasium, a centerpiece of the expanded facility.
“It’s great to have all this space, and the wood floor,”?said Shimko, as he picked up stray basketballs.
Numerous sports leagues and classes are based at the Pavilion.
Booths were set up around the gym where area residents could ask questions and get information about all the available programs.
“It was well-worth the (inconvenience),”?said park district employee Angie Barea-Bilo, as she and a co-worker enjoyed ice cream while observing all the activity in the new gym.
The Pavilion remained open during the improvements, which took more than a year to complete. In addition to the new gym, built on as an addition to the building, the women explained that their workspace was moved around the facility during the construction, and at one point they found themselves in the old gym, amid balls being thrown around.
Among the families enjoying the morning activities were longtime Oak Lawn residents Janet Mayer, her daughter, Rocelle Kosmos, and Rochelle’s granddaughter, Grace, 3.
“We have four generations living here in Oak Lawn,”?said Mayer. “Having access to all the activities here (for people of all ages) is one of the reasons we put our roots down here.”
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