On behalf of my fellow Commissioners and the Park District staff, I invite you to join us in a year-long 50th Anniversary celebration as we look back at “50 Years With You!” Since the Village of Franklin Park was incorporated in 1892, it took another 72 years before the Franklin Park Women’s Club and the local Kiwanis Club asked residents to vote for a referendum to form the “Franklin Park Park District.” At that time, besides school property and some vacant lots, there were no parks in town and few places for children to play.
The vision of what could be in Franklin Park was led by the “Franklin Park Cooperative Recreation Association,” an independent volunteer group that inspired residents to meet with their neighbors and go door-to-door to share their excitement for potential Park District parks, facilities and programs. The four-year effort for the July 11, 1964 referendum resulted in 980 residents voting “yes” as well as the election of the first five Commissioners from a group of thirteen candidates. The park district was officially incorporated July 17, 1964.
The new Park District quickly purchased remaining land for parks. North, Elder, Hawthorne, Ruby/Addison, and Timber Parks were built between 1966 and 1968. The Pool on Pacific, North Park Gymnasium and Service Center were acquired and built in 1969 along with Willow, Chestnut, and Robinson Crusoe (Championship) Parks. The Community Center was built in 1970 and the Ice Arena in 1974 and in the same four years, Chestnut, Lincoln, and Iceland Parks were developed. Since those early years, from 1988 to 2003, land was purchased for eight additional parks, now totaling 24.3 acres of park property for families to enjoy.
With the purchase of the last four parks, the Commissioners have been dedicated to providing parks within walking distance of every home. Since 2000, thirteen parks were renovated and during the coming Anniversary Year, we will have Grand Openings for Elder, Lincoln, and Chestnut Parks. Elder and Lincoln Parks were just completed in October, and Chestnut Park is under construction as part of a major renovation supported in part through an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Grant.
This insert attached is your guide to the 50th Anniversary activities. As we introduce regular 2014 events, each will also feature part of your parks and recreation history. We look forward to celebrating this exciting birthday year with you and encourage you and your family to discover and enjoy your parks, facilities,
Susan E. O’Connell
President, Board of Commissioners