Jefferson Memorial Park Advisory Council sets capital goals, announces Santa event with lights and model train display


The Jefferson Park Advisory Council at its Nov. 12 meeting announced several park improvement goals, including new lockers for the pool, and outlined plans for a holiday celebration next month that will include an elaborate model train display inside the park fieldhouse, 4822 N. Long Ave.

It was reported at the meeting that the lockers inside the pool complex are original to when the pool was constructed about 40 years ago and are in deteriorating condition. There are about 60 lockers in both the men’s and women’s dressing areas.

Council president Lionel Rabb said that the lockers are one of several capital improvement projects for the park that the council is discussing with Chicago Park District officials. He said that the council may help raise funds for some of the projects.

The council discussed the need for additional play features at the park’s playlot, which was rebuilt 4 years ago, and for interior renovations to the park’s former craft shop, which has been used solely for storage purposes for the past 15 years.  The council is hoping to re-open the two-story craft shop building, 4820 N. Long Ave., for a new public use.

The park district repainted the craft shop building earlier this year and made some repairs to its exterior, but several pieces of machinery which were used to make jewelry are still housed in the 130-year-old building. The building was once home to Henry Esdohr, who was a postmaster and business owner in Jefferson Park.

The council also is working with the park district on a long-term vision plan for the park. The council’s recommendations include a band shell, a café, new tennis courts and a larger playlot.

It also was reported that the park district’s north region has been addressing problems of staffing shortages at the park and that the west end of the park is being abated on a regular basis because of rats.  Some members said that businesses have complained about rat problems in alleys near the park.

Rabb also reported at the meeting that the council next year hopes to help provide resources to some of the other parks, including Roberts Square, which fall under the supervision of Jefferson Park supervisor Andrea Woppel. The council has its own staff member, who is paid by a local not-for-profit foundation.

Also at the meeting, it was announced that the council will be hosting “Santa’s Back, People” from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the park. The free event will include sleigh rides, photos with Santa, live reindeer and the unveiling of holiday lights on the front of the field house and several trees at the northeast corner of the park at Long and Higgins avenues.

The event also will mark the opening of a holiday village train display inside the fieldhouse. The model train display will be about 8 feet tall and 16 feet wide and include several layers of tracks and decorative features, including trees, tunnels, a carnival, lights, mountains and snow, said resident Dave Pietrowski, who has set up holiday train displays in the Hancock and NBC and buildings in Downtown Chicago.

“You’ll see it layered like a wedding cake,” Pietrowski said. “It will take about four days to set up.”

The three model train brands that will be used in the display are Williams, Mikes Train House and Lehmann Gross Bahn, Pietrowski said.

The council asks that families pre-register for the Santa event at