Good parks contribute to good communities

2013-05-05T00:00:00Z Good parks contribute to good communitiesCarrie Steinweg Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

More than 20 years ago as my husband and I were planning our wedding, we started looking at houses in the south suburbs and Northwest Indiana. We decided we wanted to move to Lansing. One thing that factored into that decision was the parks, which made it an inviting place to live. My brother, sister-in-law and their three daughters already lived in Lansing and I had spent countless summer days with them at the Lan-Oak Pool as I was growing up and hanging out at Bock and Lan-Oak Parks.

I looked forward to moving to town and in the years ahead spending time in the parks and the park district programs with my family. And we’ve utilized the parks and park district programs greatly over the years.

I had season passes for the pool each year until it closed and spent many summer afternoons and evenings there before I became a mom and after my oldest son came along. I’ve had memberships at the Eisenhower Fitness Center. My oldest son also attended preschool classes there. Over the years, I’ve had my kids enrolled in many activities there, from music classes to karate to swimming to gymnastics to basketball. We went there to visit the Easter bunny and my oldest son dressed up to frighten people in the Haunted Hallway.

One year I got the park district brochure and set out that summer to visit every park and it was fun to visit ones a little off the beaten path that I didn’t even know existed. I’d pack a little lunch and if we ended up at one that didn’t have a playground, we’d spread out a blanket, have something to eat and then throw a ball or Frisbee around.

With kids who have played baseball and soccer over the years, we’ve been at many of the parks for practices and games. If you ever need a little cheering up, stop by Lan-Oak Park on a Saturday morning and watch a T-Ball game. I guarantee you’ll leave with a smile on your face.

When my nephew would come to visit, I’d always take him and my oldest son over to Erfert Park where we’d feed bread to the ducks and I’d photograph them sitting on a low tree branch each year. It’s fun to look back at those pictures and see how they grew. When my husband was best man at his friend’s wedding, the whole wedding party went there for photos on the bridge. I’ve walked the path there and the kids have fished there and sledded there. Following the Halloween parade, my kids would play on the equipment at Winterhoff Park. Each July 4, we’d visit Lan-Oak Park for food and fun and fireworks. I think we’ve hit them all for playtime after school. We’ve done Easter Egg hunts at several of them. And there are many where we’ve gone to play after picking up ice cream cones just to sit and enjoy the outdoors. The parks in Lansing hold many memories for us.

I was so disappointed last month when a referendum that would benefit our parks did not pass. It was very close and lost by less than 100 votes. Now that the weather is warming, it’s even more disappointing. As I’ve been out watching the kids play soccer, I’m heartbroken there will be no new fields at Bock Park. Had the referendum passed, the old, empty pool would be in the process of being demolished to make way for new soccer fields. As I’ve been at baseball games over at the sports complex, I’ve seen the parents try to occupy toddlers and young kids and think about how a playground area would finally be in the works had the referendum passed. I’ve been over to Winterhoff Park to visit the Martini memorial tree. It’s the only thing there on a big plot of empty space. With that referendum, it would have been on its way to being an actual park again. The financial impact for my household would have been so small (less than the price of one Happy Meal a month) and we would have gained so much. I hope that by the time the referendum comes up again, more people will realize the value in our parks. The parks are one of the things that drew our family here and have been a big part of our lives. If we want to keep families coming here and making Lansing their home, good parks are essential.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at csteinw@yahoo.com.

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