By Marty Farmer
The Park District of Oak Park hosted a community meeting to review the Wenonah Park Master Plan Update Community Meeting at Fox Center on Feb. 21. With a group of approximately 15 residents in attendance, the park district's Executive Director Jan Arnold and John Mac Manus from the landscape design firm Altamanu gave an introduction and presentation, respectively, about Wenonah Park.
Located at Harrison Street and Wenonah Avenue, Wenonah Park is the smallest among the park district parks.
"Wenonah is our smallest park at just a little over a tenth of an acre," said Diane Stanke, the park district's director of marketing and customer service, "but just as with all of our other parks, we maximize every square inch to provide recreation opportunities to our community."
A 2009 master plan called for various improvements to the park. A year later, upgrades included new playground equipment, installation of accessible rubber surfacing, plus new benches, a walkway, drinking fountain, trash receptacles and ornamental fencing and landscaping.
"During the 2009 planning process residents asked for a fence to act as a sound barrier to block the noise from the Eisenhower Expressway, which was not completed during the initial renovation project," Stanke said. "Otherwise, all of the improvements identified were completed, including a water fountain that also includes a doggie bowl."
Feedback from the community is generally positive regarding the transportation-themed park/tot lot designed for ages 2-5. The park includes a playground with slides, a gas tank filling station, and a VW bug kids climb into for fun. A turtle-designed play structure, sandbox, picnic/chess table and interpretive signs are other amenities.
While there no funds currently allocated for additional upgrades at the park, residents shared ideas at the community meeting. Among many recommendations, here are a few: addition of mounds and logs for kids to play on, removal of the sand box and also the gate on Harrison, fix drainage, and add a warning sign/speed bump on Harrison.
"Those in attendance asked for the sand play area to be removed and were positive regarding adding some natural components including log steppers and tree trunks to climb and sit," Stanke added. "The residents also asked about adding mounds similar to those added at Euclid Square Park which are a big hit with little ones."
In April, there will be a presentation given to the Park Board regarding the Wenonah Park community meeting and potential improvements in the future.
"I'm confident the consultants from Altamanu will design an improved park plan that will reflect the input we received from our residents and maximize the park space," Stanke said. "Residents can visit our website and search for park planning. Information on all of our planning projects are included on this page."
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