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Spring fever hits Hegewisch park

Spring fever hits Hegewisch park

CHICAGO - The Hegewisch Babe Ruth League baseball field at 12600 S.

Carondolet Ave. and the surrounding area received a spring cleaning thanks to

the helping hands and caring hearts of volunteers.

The Calumet Ecological Park Association, Hegewisch Sports Facility

Coalition, and the Hegewisch Babe Ruth League sent volunteers to Saturday's

cleanup project, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The approximately 35 volunteers performed the cleanup as part of a delayed

Earth Day project, said Larry Wedryk, Hegewisch businessman and project


Wedryk said he belongs to CEPA, the group which supports protecting the Lake

Calumet area by turning it into an ecological park.

Volunteers, including CEPA members John Pastirik and Marian Byrnes, donned

winter jackets to keep out Saturday morning's chilly wind.

Pastirik and Byrnes scoured the area along the banks of Indian Creek south

of the ball field. They unearthed lots of broken glass, beer bottles, a rubber

hose from a car, a spraying container for pesticides or paint, an air filter

for a car, fishing line, and even telephone cable.

The area along the creek and the baseball field is in a remote location in

north Hegewisch. It is surrounded by industry, including what's left of LTV

Steel, Arrow Terminal, and developer Donald Schroud's property.

Pastirik and Byrnes collected several bags of debris which they deposited in

nearby garbage cans.

Pastirik said he hoped Saturday's cleanup would improve the area's


"This could be an asset to the community instead of an eyesore," Pastirik


Meanwhile, volunteers from the Hegewisch Sports Facility Coalition and the

Hegewisch Babe Ruth League cleaned up the ball field in preparation for the

league's May 25 opening day.

The volunteers, including Mike Maslanka, Mike Nudo, and Matt Gonzales,

picked up debris scattered over the field.

"We're trying to make the field look better," Maslanka said.

It wasn't just all work and no play Saturday for the boys. They took turns

batting and catching on the field.

John Karas, also of the coalition, said there's a lot of work to be done. He

noted a water line to the concession stand burst over the winter after water

trapped inside the line had frozen. The line will be replaced, but work will be

costly. Karas was hoping for donations to cover the cost.

"It (the baseball field) has been sitting all winter. We want to make it a

nice place to visit for the summer," Karas said. "We want to keep the kids off

the streets. We want to keep them busy, having something for them to do by

playing the all-American sport."

The land on which the existing Hegewisch Babe Ruth League baseball field

stands plus about 25 acres east of it, across South Carondolet Avenue, now

belongs to the Hegewisch Sports Facility Coalition, Karas said.

The land formerly was owned by LTV Steel, then sold to local developer

Donald Schroud, who donated it to the coalition last year, Karas said.

The land east of Carondolet Avenue is the former site of an ancient lake.

It's now marshland, Wedryk said. Some of that land may some day be used for a

new, larger Hegewisch Babe Ruth League ball field, but the wetlands area will

not be disturbed, Karas said.

Careless dumping and recent windstorms have blown paper and garbage around

the area. The debris must be cleaned up as a first step to rejuvenating the

area, said Wedryk.

"We are trying to return the area to its pristine beauty," Wedryk said.

Pastirik said he's not sure how to get people to stop littering the area.

Ironically, there's a sign on the field's concession stand advising local

residents, "This is your field, Hegewisch. Take pride in it."

The cleanup volunteers are hoping people will heed the sign's message.


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