Monica Zackary practices her pickleball serves at the H-F Racquet & Fitness Club. Two pickleball courts are made from one tennis court. The net in the foreground is a tennis net. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Local News

Projects prioritized in park district’s preliminary budget

Homewood-Flossmoor Park District staff came before the park commissioners with lists of projects and purchases they hope will be included in the $15.5 million proposed 2024-2025 budget.

Paving work on walking paths and trails, two new mowers, a replacement oven for Wiley’s Grill, repairs on the Lions Club baby pool and new furnishings at the pool office, bathroom updates at Irons Oaks and an emergency generator at the Irwin Center are among the items on the wish list.

Some improvements won’t be noticeable but are essential to parks operation, such as moving data to the cloud and other technology improvements. Also, finding ways to reduce credit card fees. The park district accepts credit cards, but each time a guest uses a card, the park district is charged 30-cents and 2.75% of the total.

The robot machine, with its spout covered in white plastic, kept an even delivery of concrete as the Olympic-sized rink at the H-F Ice Arena is filled in. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
The robot machine, with its spout covered in white plastic, kept
an even delivery of concrete as the Olympic-sized rink at the
H-F Ice Arena is filled in. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Karen Garrity, superintendent of finance and administration, outlined the $15,552,734 budget at the park board’s March 5 meeting. The plan calls for spending $15,390,540. In her review, Garrity said the budget includes capital expenditures at $1,259,225, principal payments of $1,494,795 and interest payments of $550,989.  She noted, “These expenditures are funded by various sources, such as property tax revenues, bond proceeds, operating revenues and available fund balances.”

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Park programs shut down during the pandemic. While some are not back to pre-pandemic numbers, staff members note they are rebounding. Expenses continue to climb, including the hourly wage now at $14. By January 2025, Illinois will be at the mandated $15 per hour minimum wage.

Monica Zackary practices her pickleball serves at the H-F Racquet & Fitness Club. Two pickleball courts are made from one tennis court. The net in the foreground is a tennis net. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Monica Zackary practices her pickleball serves at the H-F Racquet &
Fitness Club. Two pickleball courts are made from one tennis court.
The net in the foreground is a tennis net. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Michelle Artis, Racquet & Fitness Club manager, reported an 11% jump in memberships, due in part to people using their insurance and Medicare benefits. Pickle ball is also drawing more people to the club.

The H-F Ice Arena opened after the pandemic only to shut down for nearly 18 months after the icemaking equipment failed forcing the park board to do a complete rebuild of the system. These past months, numbers are showing momentum, said Lyndsay Freeman, ice arena manager. Open skate hours are drawing people to the ice, and the staff is going to introduce new hockey tournaments to draw more players to the rink.

Mike Zarifis gets ready for his shot from the tee and across the pond at Coyote Run Golf Course on Thursday, Dec. 14. (Marilyn Thomas photos/H-F Chronicle)
Mike Zarifis gets ready for his shot from the tee and across the pond
at Coyote Run Golf Course on Thursday, Dec. 14.
(Marilyn Thomas photos/H-F Chronicle)

The one bright spot has been golf, which was a boon during the pandemic and continues to grow. Coyote Run Golf Course has been open on and off during the winter months because temperatures have been warmer than usual with little snow. 

While the course wasn’t operating on a full schedule, golfers were anxious to be on the course. The first weekend in March, 167 golfers played on Saturday, March 2, when the temperature was 54 degrees and 255 played on Sunday, March 3, when the temperature was 64 degrees, according to Tom Denklau, course manager. 

The calendar for the Adventure Center at Irons Oaks was booked solid from May through December 2023, according to Cheryl Vargo, Irons Oaks manager. She included new harnesses and ropes in her next budget request.

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