Monday, July 13 was a historic moment for Elmhurst Park District, as the District unveiled and dedicated Elmhurst’s first new park in more than three decades. The Park Board and District staff hosted a Virtual Park Dedication on Facebook to celebrate and reveal the park's name.
This being the year of the District's 100th anniversary, the name, Centennial Park, reflects back with pride on the last 100 years of the District while looking ahead toward the future with hope and optimism.
Park Board President, Vince Spaeth, noted the unique circumstances of the moment and reflected on the history of the District.
“The Park District was actually founded in the midst of the 1918 Flu pandemic and so we’ve learned a thing or two over the years about perseverance. The site where we’re standing on today will greatly enhance the Park District’s ability to meet the needs of the community in the future,” said Spaeth.
Centennial Park is located at 155 E. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst, previously known as the Redeemer Center. The Park Board approved a contract to purchase the property in August 2019.
The decision to purchase the nearly three acre Redeemer property addresses a number of needs expressed by the community, including preserving open space, addressing neighborhoods without parks, as well as a more suitable location for a new adult center. Another benefit is that the property is already tax-exempt therefore it will not come off the tax rolls, which is an added benefit to tax payers.
Park assessments completed in 2016 identified several areas of town known as park deserts where homes are not within walking distance of a park. The Redeemer property neighborhood is in one of those deserts, and residents will benefit from the open space for years to come.
Jim Rogers, Executive Director, highlighted the opportunities the site provides, including plans to move the District’s senior center to the former Redeemer Center.
“Moving the adult center to this site and into the building behind us will allow for enhanced and expanded offerings. Programming here can serve adults of all ages, instead of just seniors,” said Rogers.
The immediate plans for the site include soliciting feedback from the neighborhood in 2021 to determine what they would like to see in a park at this location. In addition, the District is expecting news this fall regarding a grant application which would provide significant assistance toward redeveloping the existing former Redeemer Center to turn it into an updated adult center.