Chillicothe Park District spruces up Santa Fe Park

Marianne Gillespie

With the papers all officially signed Saturday, Chillicothe Park District officials wasted no time in working at Santa Fe Park.

The park district and the city approved an intergovernmental agreement, which allows the park district ownership of the park in order to install a splash pad.

In the agreement, the city gives the park district ownership of the park as long as, within five years, a splash pad is installed, or the city can reclaim its park.

A splash pad is a type of water playground without a pool.

Park district officials previously said they would like the free feature to be used by neighborhood children who are not allowed to walk across town to Shore Acres Pool.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, Chillicothe Park District’s director of parks and recreation, Kevin Yates, sent a crew to pick up downed limbs and trim at the park.

Also within the next month or two, Yates said, the wooden playground will be taken out of the park.

The park district’s insurance carrier cited two main reasons: no base underneath the structure should children fall and structurally wise, a wooden playground increases splinters.

Come winter, Yates said he anticipates hiring Farnsworth Group of Peoria to create a master plan for the park, which will give officials options of prices and phases.

Including the splash pad, Yates said another popular request is for some sort of sidewalks at the park.

More input also was received from residents on leaving the baseball diamond at the park.

The backstop does need repair, Yates said, and will be refurbished the same time as the backstop for Little Gotch in Rome, which had a tree fall on the diamond. Work is expected to be completed within the next month.

Also planned for the fall is the removal of the cabins and the small pavilion at the former Neighborhood House Camp.

Yates said park district officials plan to purchase the property officially this fall.

Though officials previously sought grants to pay for the acquisition of the park, Yates said the state never released funds through the Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ll switch our focus from acquisition grants to development grants,” said Yates.

This spring, he said he plans to apply for a grant through the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program.

From properties to pools, rough numbers, not including special groups, of those splashing at Shore Acres Pool number around 15,000, about the same number as last year.

“It turned out to be a good year,” said Yates. “It was a slow start, though.”

Included are 3,000 punches on punch cards, and those paying at the door: adults (16 and older) — 4,000; children ages 6 to 15 — 5,500; children ages 5 and under — 2,300; and seniors (60 and up) — 124.

Residents enjoyed 61 full days of swimming, with four half-days and nine full-days closed.

Through the park district newsletter, 218 residents took advantage of a free adult admission coupon.

In other news, the park district approved a portion of the clubhouse roof to be repaired, along

with the softball scorer’s booth, to be completed this fall.

The parking lot and basketball courts also will be sealcoated.

Away from Chillicothe, park district officials are talking to the homeowners association of Northbrook subdivision near Alta.

Yates said the subdivision is interested in giving its 3-acre park to the park district, since it lies within the park district’s boundaries.

A decision about the park may occur this fall.