Thank you to everyone who came to the Friends Park Dedication on Thursday, September 12. Below is a summary of the remarks made during the dedication.
The park is the result of the work of many people. It started with the vision of the Board of Commissioners, who saw this space as an opportunity to re-imagine what a park could be. Together, present and previous Commissioners spent countless hours listening to community feedback and debating design ideas. Thank you to Commissioners Bob Kimble, Hilary Lee, Steve Gaines, Andre Lerman, and Seth Palatnik, as well as previous commissioners Maxine Retsky and Trent Cornell.
Friends Park is the product of hours of hard work, led by our Executive Director Lisa Sheppard, Director of Parks Rick Bold and Director of Facilities Steve Nagle, Director of Finance/Human Resources Carol Mensinger, and Director of Recreation Cheryl Declerck, as well as our architectural consultants Ben Kutsheid and Miranda Lovato. Special thanks to our fantastic parks team and the crew from Hacienda Landscaping, who spent the summer creating a beautiful park for Glencoe to enjoy.
Throughout the project, the support of a number of organizations made this day possible. Thank you to the Village of Glencoe, Glencoe schools, the Writers Theater, the Woman’s Library Club, and all our friends of Friends Park.
Our team also received wonderful feedback from you, our friends and neighbors. You shared your ideas by responding to surveys, participating in focus groups, sending us emails, calling us, coming to board meetings, and even visiting us in person. It was your passion that drove us to build a space that is accessible to every age and ability. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and help make Friends Park a community destination.
Throughout the years, Friends Park has been the place for kids to meet their friends and make new friends. A spot for parents to talk to neighbors and develop friendships with strangers. The park’s location has become a symbol of friendship and the bond the community shares.
Eighteen years ago, a group of citizens, Village trustees, and Park District officials came together to build Friends Park. They spearheaded a fundraising campaign and worked together to build a place for the community to gather. We continue to honor the great Glencoe tradition those individuals started in 1995 by keeping the original dedication plaque here today.
Today’s Friends Park is a continuation of the great work those individuals started in 1995, carried on for the next generation of Glencoe residents.
In rebuilding Friends Park, we wanted to advance the same spirit of friendship invoked in the original dedication. We believe the new Friends Park connects the residents, of all ages and abilities, to the community.
A few weeks ago, six year old Ari Rosen said, “Mom, I’m so excited for Friends Park to open! I can’t wait to play at the park with my sister!” While this may not seem like a big deal to many people, Ari’s older sister Hayden is restricted to a wheelchair. They have never been able to play on a playground together.
When designing Friends Park, our team put a lot of care and thought into making sure it was a place that ALL kids could enjoy. The poured-in place surface and ramps on the play pieces gives wheelchair access to most of the equipment. We included a Sway Fun attraction, a play pieced designed for kids with and without special needs to play on together. Bright colors were used to help with vision issues and inspire imagination. Little things, like the interactive panels, accessible swings and reachable drinking fountain makes Friends Park a welcoming place for people of all abilities and ages.
Today we are honoring Noel Jay Mirasol, a man who was a dedicated Glencoe volunteer and passionate about cycling, swimming, and photography. His lifelong career with IBM was second to the importance he placed on family and friends. Jay would have loved the community atmosphere found at Friends Park today. Jay’s wife, Kendra, and children, Nicholas and Alexandra, generously gifted the Glencoe Park District with a fountain in his memory.
We are also honoring Esther and Jack Michlin, Glencoe residents for over 64 years, with a bench. The bench was a surprise from their dear friends, Arlene and Keith Bronstein and family. Thank you.
Finally, we are honoring the service, commitment and stewardship of previous park district commissioners Maxine Retsky and Trent Cornell. Thank you for your service.
The spirit of friendship is alive and well at Friends Park, from the partners and advocates who helped move the project forward to the strangers who are now becoming friends by visiting the park.
On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and the Glencoe Park District, we are pleased to welcome you to Friends Park.