Ribbon-cutting event Thursday marks completion of Parker addition

The new Dolphin Lake clubhouse will be open for use 
in a few weeks, according to HF Park District officials.

What’s happening at 183rd Street and Governors Highway is nothing less than a transformation of one of the H-F area’s most visible intersections.

Thanks to the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District, the south end of Dolphin Lake is taking shape as a multipurpose recreational area that will be enjoyed for years to come.

The long-outmoded Dolphin Lake building, demolished last winter, will soon re-open as an attractive clubhouse that is appropriate for parties and other social get-togethers, as well as park district classes and programs. Overlooking Dolphin Lake, the new building can be divided into two party spaces, both accessible to a kitchen. There are numerous windows in the well-lighted structure and a large patio that will bring events into the open air.

Walking trails criss-cross the new recreational complex, which includes bioswales designed to both move and clean rainwater passing through the area. A large gazebo, complete with picnic grill and seating, will also be available for picnics and other gatherings. A new parking lot is under construction and landscaping will be completed this fall. A stone amphitheatre, on the shore of the lake, will be used for children’s programming and occasional musical or theater offerings.

Debbie Kopas, the park district’s executive director, said the project is slightly behind schedule but that the new building will probably be ready for occupancy around Sept. 20.

“There’s definitely a lot of buzz about it,” Kopas said. “People are asking us when it’s going to be ready.”

A number of persons have already booked parties at the new building, Kopas said. The park district is getting calls every day about reserving space, she said.

“And that’s sight unseen,” she said.

The new structure is being constructed on the old building’s foundation, said Darren Jasieniecki, the park district’s marketing and public relations manager.

“That really helped lower the costs of the project,” he said. The original building’s basement area is still in place and will be used solely for storage.

The total cost of the project is $3.25 million. Earlier this year, the park district ran into one major snag regarding the project when Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended state Open Space Lands and Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants as part of a cost-cutting move.

The park district was awarded a $400,000 OSLAD grant by former Gov. Pat Quinn in April 2014 and planned to use the money for outdoor improvements at the Dolphin Lake site.

Kopas said this week that she still doesn’t know if the park district will ever receive the OSLAD grant money. Money will be diverted from projects slated for the 2016 fiscal year to make up the shortfall from the loss of the state grant.

She said the park district was obligated to go ahead with the Dolphin Lake project, even without the OSLAD grant. The park district, she said, had signed contracts for the Dolphin Lake work.

“We have to honor those contracts,” she said

Kopas said the park district also has a contract with the state for the OSLAD grant, adding that the state does not appear to be honoring its contract.

Photos by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle.

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