Flossmoor homeowner: Butterfield Creek is carrying away my yard

Former H-F Park Board member Pat Nevins sits on 
a bench install in his honor in Patriot Park. 

(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/HF Chronicle)

When Pat Nevins and his family moved to Homewood in 1987, he remembers a “Future Park Site” sign at the former Army radar site on 187th Street near Center Avenue in his neighborhood. He never thought he’d help see the park plans to fruition.

These days Patriots Park, built on that old 11-acre Army site, has a special place honoring Nevins, who served for 18 years on the Homewood-Flossmoor Park Board. The board honored him by dedicating a bench and planting a tree near the baseball diamond at the park they affectionately call Pat’s Park.

Nevins was new to the board when the park district went out for a “Keep It Green” referendum in 1998 that gave the park district $12 million to purchase and develop 158 acres at three sites that today are Millennium Park, Coyote Run Golf Course and Patriots Park.

Developing the old Army site on 187th Street and the former Nike missile site on what today is the east end of Apollo Park in Homewood took years of dealing with the federal government. Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) cleared the way in 2000 for the land transfers.

Nevins believes converting those spaces to parks and maintaining the former Cherry Hills Golf Course as a redesigned golf course were essential for the livability of the Homewood and Flossmoor communities because parks, like good schools, draw people to the area.

Over the years, Nevins found the park district staff and board members doing a great job of projecting future needs, as well as being flexible to change.

“My predecessors had great ideas and we’ve been able to build on them,” he said. “The Racquet Club started from a tiny building. They thought about the Ice Arena. They took over Lions Club pool. They took over Dolphin Lake from a homeowners association.”

The park district has been able to expand its services beyond what is based around those buildings, he adds. The board is always aware of trends, citing a skate park as a perfect example.

“I understand why kids are attracted to electronic things. That’s why we have to have the parks in good condition so if nothing else the parents will realize we have the parks and bring their kids to them,” Nevins explained.

“One thing (board member) Steve Johnson pointed out a couple of years ago: we’re a Gold Medal park district. We want the parks as good as our buildings, as good as our programs; all of that has to be good because we want people doing things. If they’re not involved taking programs or using the parks, it’s a shame,” Nevins adds.

Before Nevins served on the park board, he twice was a member of the Leisure Committee. He also coordinated volunteers for the Starry Nights programs.

These days, Nevins is in retirement but accepted a part-time position as a librarian for the City of Harvey. In addition, he’s spending more of his free time doing community theater at South Suburban College, performing as well as helping back stage. In January he’ll perform in his seventh revue for kids.




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