Bensenville Park District Recognizes Volunteers
The Bensenville Park District held a recognition party for its volunteers on October 21, at White Pines Golf Club & Banquets new tented pavilion. 355 volunteers dedicated their time since the District’s volunteer program which began in April, 2015, collectively clocking over 10,000 service hours.
Athletic coaches, volunteers at Ecological Restoration Program Work Days and special events, and those who assisted in many capacities at Fischer Farm all enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner and a comedy show. Park Stewards, Lona Sweet and Rob Kartholl, were also recognized for their dedication to the Program.
Many thanks to those who volunteer their time and help add value to our community!
Volunteer of the Year award, Kayla Salvatori and Mary Wagner, Bensenville Park District’s Community and Special Events Supervisor.
Bensenville Park District Plans to Improve Historic Farm
By Robert Sanchez, Daily Herald
The historic Fischer Farm in Bensenville is slated to get new gardens, lighting and handicapped-accessible ramps. Bensenville Park District officials have outlined the improvements in a two-year action plan for the farm along Grand Avenue in Bensenville. “We’re trying to get the farm to the next level,” District Executive Director Rick Robbins said Monday. “Even though it’s right there on Grand Avenue, we still feel like it’s a hidden gem of our community and of this region.”
Established about 1838 by the Fischer family, the 5-acre farm is believed to be one of the oldest remaining homesteads in the county. The property next to Fischer Woods Forest Preserve belongs to the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. But Bensenville Park District leases the farm from the forest preserve district and has operated it since 2001. Through the years, all nine of the farm’s structures have been restored. Recently, a kitchen garden was planted, and bees and chickens have been acquired. Sheep were added last week.
On Tuesday, Bensenville officials are going to meet with forest preserve commissioners to present a plan to spend $50,000 to $100,000 on projects that will further enhance the property. The lease requires the park district to get written approval from the forest preserve commission to do improvements costing more than $20,000.
Topping the list of proposed projects are several ADA upgrades, including the addition of ramps, paved driveways and crushed limestone paths. The plan also calls for a security system and additional lights to be installed on the property. For example, officials said, lights are needed in the parking lot, at the front and back door of the farmhouse, and near the oldest barns. Because the Fischer family had ducks on their farm and sold the eggs, the park district would like to add that bird to “contribute to the historical accuracy of the environment created on the farm,” officials said. There are also plans to create gardens, remove invasive plants, and grow corn and other crops.
Thousands of people visit Fischer Farm each year through special events, private rentals, group tours and individual visits. Robbins said the improvements will boost attendance at the farm and allow more people to see a piece of history. Several historic structures remain on the site, including a farmhouse built in 1920. He said, “We want people to experience it.”
Bensenville Park District Receives Grant to Support
Local Out-of-School Time Programs
Bensenville Park District, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has received a $35,000 grant to support its out-of-school time healthy food access and nutritional literacy programs. The gift is part of a $2.5 million grant NRPA received from the Walmart Foundation to support out-of-school time programs in 80 park and recreation agencies.
Bensenville Park District’s grant is to help increase access to healthy foods and improve opportunities for physical activity. “Staff is already implementing new classes and channels that further the goals of the grant. Our Summer Camp Program currently offers daily healthy lunch options, and campers now have weekly nutrition learning experiences and additional activities that keep them moving. A Family Wellness Fair is also being planned for the fall,” states Rick Robbins, Director of the Bensenville Park District.
This grant supports NRPA’s campaign—Commit to Health—which encourages the implementation and evaluation of Healthy Eating, Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in park and recreation sites across the country. NRPA’s goal is to have at least 2,000 participating sites in five years. Within the first two-years of the program, 991 sites have pledged to Commit to Health and over 108,000 children now have improved access to healthy foods and increased opportunities for physical activity.
According to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, one in five children in America struggles with hunger. Over 21 million low-income children receive free or reduced meals during the school year to help them meet their daily nutrition needs, but only 3 million of these children are getting these meals during the summer. During summer months, these children may not have access to quality and healthy food to help them grow—making Bensenville Park District’s focus on fitness and nutrition during out-of-school times that much more critical.
“Thanks to a successful two years with Commit to Health and the Walmart Foundation, over 108,000 children now have improved access to healthy foods and physical activity,” said Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of NRPA. “Parks and recreation are proving their critical role in the health of their communities and we can’t wait to see the impact this year’s grants will have on fostering life-long healthy habits in children across the country.”
Bensenville Park District Receives Grant for Ecological Restoration and Stewardship Program
The Bensenville Park District was awarded a $2,887 grant from the Bensenville Community Foundation on March 19, 2015. The BCF Grant Program supports efforts to develop and implement goals for lifelong learning opportunities for the benefit of community residents. The monies from the grant will partially fund the efforts of the Park District to develop an Ecological Restoration and Stewardship Program that will engage resident and regional volunteers to help restore and beautify Bensenville’s natural areas. The Program will engage 100s of volunteers who will become more knowledgeable and appreciative of our natural resources while enhancing and maintaining attractive and functional native landscapes.
Rick Robbins, the Executive Director of the Bensenville Park District, stated, “We have obtained Foot Stone, Inc. to assist us with the development and implementation of this plan, and to help us build a strong stewardship program to help us manage those sites.” The first of a series of PARKS Days (Park Areas Restoration Kickoff for Stewardship Day) will be held on Saturday, May 2nd when Rob Sulski, of Foot Stone, Inc, will provide an introduction of the program and work side-by-side with the Park District and volunteers. Mr. Sulski will also provide a comprehensive series of field training exercises and share his extensive knowledge and passion about native horticulture, landscape restoration and sustainable land management.
On May 2nd, PARKS Day volunteers are asked to meet at 9am at the District’s Deer Grove Leisure Center, located at 1000 W. Wood Street in Bensenville. At the Leisure Center they will listen to Mr. Sulski’s restoration plan introduction and enjoy refreshments before the group heads out to Varble Woods and Breiter-Palm Park sites for field work. The event ends with a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at noon.
Mr. Robbins proclaims, “This is where we need hundreds of hands to assist us in developing a successful stewardship program in order to preserve the natural heritage of the Bensenville area. I view volunteerism as the highest form of recreation and am again putting out my “Call to Volunteers” as we move forward.” Individuals and groups who are interested in attending the PARKS Day event on May 2nd or future volunteer events are to contact Mary Wagner at 630-766-7015, Ext.2014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bensenville Park District Receives Grant for Fischer Farm
The Bensenville Park District has been awarded a $108,200 grant for a restoration project for the Fischer Farm facility located at 16W680 Grand Avenue, Bensenville. The grant, announced June 14, 2014, by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, was among 47 other grants that were awarded to Illinois museums; these museums collectively received $20 million to improve their facilities and develop new exhibits.
Fischer Farm is currently operated by the Bensenville Park District in cooperation with the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. The Bensenville Park District plans are to utilize the $108,200 grant to restore a pre-Civil War storage barn and chicken coop on the Fischer property, known to be one of the oldest remaining homesteads in DuPage County. The purpose of the restoration is to protect and preserve the site which is a tangible link to the past and the foundation of the local community.
“Fischer Farm is a treasure of the District”, Vice President Commissioner Tom Earley stated. “We are looking forward to getting the last two buildings of the facility restored. It’s important to preserve our history for the future. As a facility of the Bensenville Park District, plans are to continue to host annual events like Heritage Day on October 11 this fall, All Around the House Quilt Show next spring, and Civil War reenactments in addition to other educational and environmental programs that are in line with the mission of the Park District”.
“These final two structures will complete the homestead restoration and take us to the next phases of programming, museum accreditation, and both historical and environmental education”, states Rick Robbins, the Park District’s Executive Director. “Our plans include bringing animals to the Farm, expanding our events and program offerings, and further developing both agricultural and stewardship opportunities for our residents. We also anticipate more involvement at the Farm with the Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NESDRA) that will allow for some great learning opportunities”.
About the Farm: The five acres of land at Fischer Farm contains nine structures that were originally owned by the Fischer family. The land just north of the cabin has been left untouched and is valued for its original seedbeds. This unchanged landscape is what settlers looked upon when they arrived in the area. Fischer Woods is a rare forest preserve with the remnants of prairie, wetland and woodland ecosystems. The facility is open to the public and tours are available Wednesday through Saturday, 9am to 1pm. For more information about the farm, visit the Fischer Farm page or call 630-834-3152.
Bensenville Park District Names Rick Robbins as New Executive Director
The Bensenville Park District Board of Commissioners has appointed Rick Robbins executive director of the Bensenville Park District effective January 1, 2014.
Rick has worked in the Parks and Recreation field for over 30 years and brings experiences from very distinct parts of the country to his new position in Bensenville. He most recently served the Collinsville Area Recreation District for 6 years as their Superintendent of Recreation, and as Interim Executive Director during his final year with the District. Prior to Collinsville, Rick spent 17 years as the Supervisor of Athletics and Fitness Services for the Peoria Park District, taking that department from a staff of one to a team of 5 full-time staff serving over 20,000 participants annually. He also served as Indoor Sports Coordinator for the City of Sunnyvale, CA and began his career with the Park District of Highland Park as their Athletic Supervisor. Throughout his career, Rick has been very active within several affiliates, sections, and committees of IPRA, serving as President of SIPRA and CIRCLE, SIPRA’s Scholarship Committee Chair, IPRA’s Recreation Section Board, and Athletics Committee Chair. He has recently served on the IPRA Nominations Committee, World Waterpark Association’s Education Committee, Public Sector Committee, and wrote an article that was published in the 2011 World Waterpark Magazine.
Rick is a proud Saluki graduate of Parks and Recreation from Southern Illinois University. He brings a great deal of experience and passion to his new position and is excited to be back in the Chicago region.
At the May 15th Board Meeting, Jim Geils and Tom Earley get sworn in by Attorney Mary Dickson. Both Jim and Tom will begin to serve their positions as Bensenville Park Board Commissioner.
On April 9, 2013, Tom Earley was re-elected for another 6-year term as Bensenville Park Board Commissioner. Tom has served on the Board since April 17, 2007 and has recently served as Board President providing leadership and vision to the team.
Monday, May 13, 2013, the Board selected Jim Geils to fill the open vacancy on the Board. Jim will serve through the Spring Election in 2015. “I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the Bensenville Park District Board and help improve upon the park and recreation services provided to the community. I believe, more than ever, that Bensenville residents have a strong community bond, and civic and government forces are aligned with the good of the people in mind.” states Mr. Geils.
Jim has been a Bensenville resident his entire life of 55 years and has grown up enjoying many park district services. His fondest memories of the Park District go back to when the community pool was at Veterans Park and many of his childhood summers were spent trying to perfect the backflip. Jim has been married to his wife Debbie for 28 years, and has two adult daughters, Gina and Monica. His family enjoys many of the services provided by the Park District, including golfing at White Pines Golf Club, participating in a variety park district programs, and attending events.
Tom Earley, Bensenville Park Board Commissioner, states, “Jim is the perfect choice because his extensive business knowledge, long-term residency, and communication skills that can help projects move forward for the District and the community. We are excited to have Jim on the Board.”
Governor Quinn announced Saturday, May 11 that the Bensenville Park District is a recipient of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources-Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (IDNR-OSLAD) grant in the amount of $506,100. The Park District will use the matching grant to assist in the acquisition of 4.06 acres of the now vacant property at Mohawk School located at 917 Hillside Drive, in northern Bensenville. The project was one of the 45 proposals that received approximately $15,000,000 in funding in 2013 through the highly competitive OSLAD Grant program.
The Bensenville Park District, Village of Bensenville and Bensenville Elementary School District 2, are working cooperatively to complete the transaction and future development of the Mohawk School site. The Park District will acquire 4.06 of 5.66 acres through this grant process for park and recreation purposes; the Village will acquire the remaining portion of the property for storm water management purposes, and the two agencies will complete the development in partnership. Upon receiving the news of the successful grant application, Executive Director Steve Cherveny stated, “This grant will help the Park District convert a public resource from its original use for education, to an alternate use as park, outdoor recreation and open space. To be able to provide recreation opportunities and additional flood relief to this area is very positive for the entire community”.
Rich Johnson was presented with a copy of a Board Proclamation from Executive Director Steve Cherveny while Commissioners Ken Anderson and John Wassinger share their appreciation. The Proclamation recognized Johnson as he leaves the Board after twelve years of service as an elected Commissioner.
On the agenda of the February 21, 2013, Bensenville Park District Board Meeting was the discussion of a new bar and restaurant concept that will improve and enhance the Club Room Grill. The Board unanimously approved the improvement and gave the go-ahead to complete the project as soon as possible to take advantage of the 2014 golf season.
This transformation will require the relocation of the existing bar operation and include the construction of a 12 seat bar with adjacent high top tables. The current grill/restaurant operation will transform into a year round destination facility that will serve both lunch and dinner while staying open until 11 pm. The new 37 Bar and Grill at White Pines is where people will want to eat great food, watch their favorite sporting events, and enjoy drinks with friends. The staff at White Pines looks forward to seeing you soon.
Marty O’Connell Good Sportsmanship – Runner Up
The IAPD Awards were announced at the Best of the Best Awards Gala at the Chevy Chase Country Club in Wheeling, Illinois, Friday, September 28, 2012.
Good Sportsmanship: This award recognizes the efforts of a citizen volunteer who coaches for park district, recreation or special recreation agency youth athletics including, but not limited to, basketball, baseball, indoor and outdoor soccer, softball, hockey, and volleyball.
Congratulations go to, Marty O’Connell! At the Bensenville Boys and Girls Athletic Association (BBAA), Marty O’Connell’s title is Baseball Commissioner, but more accurately, he’s the backbone of the organization.
Thanks to the generosity of Lucille Hyatt Hubbard, the Bensenville Park District is the beneficiary of nearly eight acres of a Wood Dale natural area and wetland.
“We’re very appreciative,” John Wassinger, Park Board President, said. “It’s a wonderful gesture to the community to donate land that is almost pristine and designate the Park District as beneficiary owner. This is something that will always be public open space.”
Delighted to be able to bestow a gift she knows her late husband and parents would have applauded, she is gratified that the park district will maintain its new acquisition, named Hyatt-Hubbard Park, as a sanctuary for the animals, plants and trees that the woods harbor.
Since May, 2009, the Park District has collected 40 tons of paper for recycling purposes at its collection station at the DGLC! Thanks to all who have contributed and helped in this effort; anybody can drop recyclable paper at the collection point. Efforts help improve the District’s Tiny Tots program, so all recyclable material helps!
The Bensenville Water Park Lifeguard Staff was awarded the Platinum International Aquatic Safety Award from Ellis & Associates in March 2011 for last summer’s superb performance! The Platinum Award is the pinnacle of Lifeguard achievement. The Platinum Award is the highest Safety Award given to only the top 10% of clients of Ellis & Associates, the Lifeguarding agency with the best safety record in the world. Throughout the summer, Water Park Lifeguards are subject to random unannounced Facility Audits where they are videotaped in the Lifeguard chair without prior knowledge and required to perform several simulated rescue scenarios. The entire Water Park Staff prides itself on keeping the Water Park a safe place for everyone who visits.
The Bensenville Park District extends its most sincere appreciation to the Village of Bensenville and the 125th anniversary committee for the generous donation of $30,000 for restorations at Fischer Farm. The fundraising efforts of the committee and backing of the Village Board has helped put the Farm a step closer to completing restoration of all the buildings.