In our compact little village (only 5 sq. miles or so in size), we should easily find those spaces and places where we come together as community and neighbors. We should…
Not quite as easy to find “The Commons” when they weren’t provided for during the “planning” and development phases. No village square or plaza, no “promenade”, no real, physical Civic “Center”, etc. Without the traditional building form of a “block” (of homes), we miss out on Block Parties as well.
So what can we do in the meantime to have neighborhood places to meet-and-greet, to have fun, that are family friendly, and that are easy to walk/cycle to?
Well, what other “public” spaces do we have in which to do things? The Round Lake Area Park District (RLAPD) is a FABULOUS organization, with outstanding programs and facilities. However, not much has been done the individual parks themselves; they are quite lacking AS PARKS.
Admittedly, the Park District didn’t design or plan most of the smaller parks throughout the RL area… it inherited them (and their problems) when it was created back in 1974. Many of them remain nothing more than grassy lots with playsets, and a token bench and trashcan, sometimes a picnic table. Several have an ancient chain-link fence circling the perimeter, presumably for safety (“Think of the Children!”) often hampering easy access. The RLAPD doesn’t schedule a lot of events in the neighborhood parks, and community members don’t feel empowered (or responsible) to do anything.
While we’re looking for ways to get residents together, to give ourselves “Place”, is there maybe some way we could “activate” these parks to become valued community resources, to get residents used to using them?
Thee’s obviously not much budget to work with these days. To get an event, or a series of events, in our parks, they’d need to be “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper“. Something which doesn’t require a major change (or ANY change!) to permanent infrastructure, something which could be set-up and removed quickly, something safe and accessible for everyone, and certainly at as low a cost as possible.
For the best “draw” of people, it should be something suitable to all ages, be “Family Friendly”, have enough “cultural commonality ” that it doesn’t come across as “exclusive” to just one type of people. Since part of what builds the essential “social fabric” of a community is the regular meeting with others (and the bonds which form), there should be opportunity to just chat and mingle for at least PART of the event.
If we’re hoping for even a modest amount of people, we’ll have to deal with one of the most common ammenties (which is one of the most-lacking in Round Lake Beach) in spaces where people congregate: public seating. What could possibly be done to provide convenient, inexpensive, short-term seating for dozens of people (maybe a hundred?) who live walkably-close to these otherwise empty parks? How does Ravinia do it?
OK, so maybe people bring their own chairs and/or blankets, some grub (maybe pack a picnic basket), bug-spray for sure, and head on out to a specific local park. They can socialize, the kids can run around and burn-off some energy, the old folks can sit and “kvetch“, the local entrepreneurs with “Food Trucks” who are desperately seeking gatherings of people (which we rarely have in RLB) to service (feed) can be parked safely around the perimeter… all we need now is something for these people to DO!
Got it! How about we have some “Movies in the Park”?
Is that too crazy? Should we wait until someone else tries such a wacky idea first?
We think this is something that ALL the Round Lake area villages can do .
We also think it is the kind of thing we NEED to do.
So, what next? Some research and some action… by ALL of us!
– Which parks are good candidates? Which neighborhoods are “underserved” by stores, churches, and other “places” to where something like this would be really appreciated?
– Talk-up the idea with some neighbors and see who’s agreeable!
– Visit the RLAPD Facebook Page and either send them a “Message” requesting Movies in the Park, or leave a “helpful suggestion”, even if you have to slide it in sideways with another (hopefully-kind-of-related) topic! Every one of you!
– Contact your Park District representatives. (Ultimately, getting a Park Commissioner’s support would be quite helpful!) A good place to start is by contacting Jeff Lurquin, the Parks and Building Services Director. Call 847-546-8558, extension 244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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