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Lemont community celebrates updated Abbey Oaks Park

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 5:00 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Carrie Dellamano of the Lemont Park District gives a hand to Aleigha Mescher, 5, of Lemont, in cutting a ceremonial ribbon at the dedication for the renovated Abbey Oaks Park in Lemont on Tuesday. Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Lemont Park District President Brian Pepich (right) talks about the contribution made by Dakota Schmidt (left), 17, of Lemont in renovating Abbey Oaks Park as his Eagle Scout project at a dedication ceremony on Tuesday. Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Guests huddle together taking shelter from a passing shower as Lemont Park District President Brian Pepich (third from right) speaks at the dedication for the renovated Abbey Oaks Park. Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com

LEMONT – The Lemont Park District held a dedication Aug. 5 for the recently remodeled Abbey Oaks Park.

Lemont Park District Board President Brian Pepich said the project was a community effort that included design input from residents and an Eagle Scout project.

"The end result is a state-of-the-art park with the latest safety features which will last for some time," he said.

The park, 1347 St. Vincent's Drive, Lemont, opened in 1994, with the help of the Lemont Lions Club.

The park district started replacement plans in March 2013 because of age, wear and outdated safety features.

About a year ago, the park district held a meeting with local residents, including children, to get design suggestions. Maintenance and Environmental Services Manager Dawn Banks said there were three boys in the front row, asking for a zip line and speed slide.

When it came to the demolition of the old equipment, the park district got some help from Boy Scout Troop 149 member Dakota Schmidt.

For his Eagle Scout project, Schmidt led a group that took down the existing towers, took out all the wood walkways and supports and removed parts of the swingset.

The renovated park opened June 26 and includes a new treehouse theme. Banks said the theme stood out when looking at possible designs with playground manufacturers.

"When they gave us the different designs, we just thought this one was cool compared to the other ones, and it met some of the criteria that the community residents here had wanted."

Banks said residents had asked for more ramps in the design, but modern designs do not include more ramps because they take up too much space. She said the park district would have had to expand the boundaries of the previous playground to include more ramps, and residents had said they like the open space next to the playground.

Pepich said he is happy with the project results.

"It turned out better than my expectations," he said. "When you see the final product and the use it's been already getting, it's really impressive. And then, to be able to incorporate an Eagle Scout project into this, it's like the icing on the cake."

Lemont resident Julie Mescher brought her daughters, Aleigha, 4, and Kaida, 2, to the new playground for the first time Tuesday night.

"My 4-year-old likes it all," she said. "My baby can use the little stuff."

The park district has other parks scheduled for renovations: Derby Park, 1248 Country Lane, and Carriage Park, 1039 Blacksmith Lane.

Community design planning meetings have already been held, and the park district is looking at concepts for the renovations.

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New features

The remodeled Abbey Oaks Park features a play area meant for ages 2 to 12. The play area has a 20-foot zip-line, climbing net, grasshopper spring rider, double racer slide speed slide and play panels geared towards the younger children. There is also a new sheltered area with a picnic table, as well as benches throughout the grounds.

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