More Jeff Park leisure use wanted
by BRIAN NADIG
The Jefferson Memorial Park Advisory Council at its Oct. 10 meeting discussed ways to encourage more families to spend their leisure time at the park, 4822 N. Long Ave.
Park supervisor Andrea Woppel reported that the park is successful in terms of its registration for scheduled activities and classes. "We have 900 families registered for paid programming," she said, adding that the park’s nearly 400 campers last summer were the most of any park in the city by about 75 children.
However, some residents said that they would like to see more people using the park in the daytime for recreational purposes that are not part of the park’s regular programming.
Concerns were expressed that difficulty in parking near the park discourages visitors and that many older residents are spending their free time at the city’s designated satellite senior centers at nearby Norwood and Portage parks. Concerns were also raised that Jefferson Park lacks a fitness center.
The council is planning to start organizing more community events, similar to when the council was formed about 5 years ago.
In the past, the council hosted live bands, petting zoos and picnics, all of which the council attributed to bringing out more people to the park on a daily basis and creating a safer park. At the time council members said that crime concerns were keeping families away from the park, but at the Oct. 10 meeting they said that crime does not appear to be as much of an issue nowadays.
A "Santa’s Workshop" event has been scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2, at the park. Tentative plans call for a Santa visit, a holiday craft workshop and Christmas bazaar for vendors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a movie.
The council is looking into having pictures taken with Santa inside the park’s former craft shop at 4820 N. Long Ave., which is used primarily for storage. Constructed in the 1880s, the two-story Esdohr House is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Jefferson Park, and it was relocated from Higgins Avenue to Long Avenue when the park was built in the 1930s.
Council vice president Frank Suerth said that there were no admission fees for previous events hosted by the council, but some residents suggested asking for nominal donations for future events.
Representatives of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association and Jefferson Park Forward attended the meeting, offering to promote park activities and to help organize park volunteers when needed.
It also was recommended that the park have an outdoor ice rink for the winter, but council members said that Chicago Park District regulations along with safety and cost concerns would likely prohibit a rink. It was reported that several years ago some residents formed a temporary, makeshift rink at the park.
It also was reported that the Roberts Square Park Advisory Council is now operating as a subcommittee of the Jefferson Park council.
As part of the park district’s fall/winter movie series, the animated movie "Monster House" will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, at Jefferson Park.