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SportSplex completion, ongoing parkS improvementS Slated for 2018 I n 2017, the Hammond Parks and Recreation Department saw a number of improvements and upgrades with more exciting developments on the horizon thanks to Mayor Thomas M. McDermott and the City Council. Trees are being replaced throughout Hammond following destruction caused by the Emerald Ash Borer. “We’ve been taking down trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer. They’re all dying from this bug, but in reaction to this we planted more than 800 trees,” said Heintz. “That’s a highlight. It’s a smaller “Our biggest thing we are working on now is the Sportsplex scale one, but in many communities you won’t see this many that is being built at the site of the old Woodmar Mall,” said trees being planted.” Grant funds have helped pay for the Mark Heintz, administrator for the Department of Parks and plantings with the new trees popping up in 13 parks. Recreation. “It will be a 145,000-square-foot $20 million facility that should be open by Sept. 1.” Lighting upgrades at the Parks and Recreation facilities are ongoing. “We’re changing out to all LED lights, and those The Hammond Sportsplex will include six basketball courts energy efficiency changes will save us long term on our that can be converted to 12 volleyball courts, a quarter-mile month to month NIPSCO bills,” said Heintz. suspended walking track, two regulation-size indoor soccer fields and six indoor batting cages. A community room will In addition to the completion of the Sportsplex, goals for offer space for events, and it will feature a concession 2018 include beginning improvements at Edison, Hessville, area. Groundbreaking on the project, managed by Madison Martin Luther King Jr., Pulaski and Irving Parks. Projects Construction Co. of Orland Park, took place last August. will also be completed at Columbia and Dowling Parks. Grant funding is being sought to purchase more than 300 While this immense project has received much attention, additional trees to replace the dead ash trees. a recent year in review compiled by Heintz shows that the city is in a constant state of advancements when it comes While the tradition of swimming at a community pool was to parks and public facilities. put on hold in 2017 while the department evaluated future use and associated maintenance costs, plans will be moving “We developed a park at 173rd Street and Cline Avenue forward at each site. “One pool will be rebuilt and others thanks to Mayor McDermott and 6th District Councilman are getting new park improvements,” said Heintz. Scott Rakos,” said Heintz. “Amy Park has a new playground, and a new dog park was added.” Seniors saw their request for a community center come to fruition last year, as well. An underutilized building at Amy Park replaced a little-used unnamed park property that Pulaski Park was converted into a new senior center thanks was transformed into a multiuse area that includes safety to McDermott and 1st District Councilman Mark Kalwinski. surfacing, landscaping and a quarter-mile asphalt walking The facility is open from 9am-3pm Tuesdays and Thursdays trail. The new park came at the urging of Amy Radolak and and is operated by volunteers. the Girls on the Run Program at Hess School. Fans of Disc Golf can play again at Riverside Park on a course Playgrounds at Indi-Illi Park and Rich’s Park received originally built in 1986. The course had to be removed in 2000 upgraded equipment thanks to a Solid Waste District Fund while a levee along the Little Calumet River was rebuilt, but that the city receives. The new playgrounds are constructed it returned last year at the 38-acre park, which also includes of partially recycled content. Similar upgrades are planned a playground, dog park, rugby field, and two baseball fields. in 2018 for Dowling Park with assistance from 5th District Councilman Dave Woerpel. Heintz added: “With continued support from Mayor McDermott, the City Council and the Board of Park This year Columbia Park will see completion of a $500,000 Commissioners, Hammond Parks and Recreation looks to overhaul that includes a newly paved basketball court, build stronger communities by providing parks, greenways additional playground equipment, a graded soccer field, and facilities that engage the community and make paved loops for walking and better accessibility along with Hammond a destination for recreation.” workout equipment, which will be the first of its kind in the city. This project was funded by Mayor McDermott and 2nd District Councilman Pete Torres.