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Bennett Park receives facelift, new amenities

ethan nutter photo 8 13 scaled Photo by Joe Boyle
Ethan Nutter, 17, gets some exercise on a new glider that can be found on the east side of Gerald T. Bennett Park in Palos Hills. Nutter, who lives near the park, said he comes by often to take in the scenery and get some physical activity.
By Joe Boyle
Residents are beginning to take advantage of the renovated Gerald R. Bennett Park in Palos Hills as more improvements are expected in the future.
The eastern portion of the park, located at 10802 S. Roberts Road, has been completed. Visitors who enter along 107th Street will find a walking path that will allow them several options.
Nearby residents can sit under a gazebo and stroll over to an area that provides exercise equipment. Ethan Nutter, 17, lives nearby the park and said he takes advantage of it often.
“It’s really nice and I come by here a lot,” Nutter said as he used the glider for some exercise on Friday afternoon. “They have a lot here now. It’s great to come here.”
The walking path leads to the lake where several people of all ages walked by and spent time there on Friday. Two visitors enjoyed a picnic along the lake, while a man was instructing his son on how to fish. A nearby renovated bridge can be used to get to the south side of the lake.
More renovations are expected in the future, according to Mayor Gerald Bennett. The park area was formerly known as Pleasure Lake. The Palos Hills City Council approved that the park be renamed in honor of the mayor during a meeting this past spring. Bennett has long supported improvements to the area around the lake.
“This is really going to be impressive when it is all done,” Bennett said. “Once we get the walking paths and other improvements made on the western end it is really going to be something.”
Work will continue on the west side of the park and will also include walking and jogging paths for visitors. Construction is currently taking place.
Bennett is also pleased with the new state-of-the-art public works building, which is located inside of Bennett Park. The mayor, members of the city council and other local officials toured the facility last Thursday night.
“We would like to see the public get a chance to tour the building but there will be restrictions because of COVID-19,” Bennett said during the Palos Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night.
Landscaping around the perimeter of the public works building should be completed by the end of October, the mayor said.
One resident complained about the level of noise that she said occurred during the Fourth of July weekend with endless rounds of fireworks that went into the early morning hours. She said that police were not visible near her home.
The mayor assured her that the police were busy that night and into the early morning and passed out many citations to offenders. But Bennett added that he understands her concerns.
“They (the police) were taking it seriously,” Bennett said. “But this year it just seemed to be out of control. I don’t know if it’s because many fireworks shows were canceled due to COVID or not. But this won’t be tolerated in the future.”
Flooding issues, a longtime problem in the city, is being dealt with this year and next. Workers are focusing on 82nd Avenue and the area around 82nd Court that has flooding problems over the years.
“We have been working with the MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) about flooding,” Bennett said. “We have been working on this forever, it seems. But I think we are getting close. We are hoping to have this taken care of. We are also working with the County. We hope to have this done sooner than later.”
The project to alleviate flooding began in 2014.
Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st) said that he has been working with Kristin Violante, the commissioner of the city’s Resources and Recreation Department, on how to handle the annual Beautification Awards.
Kleefisch said that Violante will contact the winners of the best maintained properties soon. Due to the pandemic, the awards could be distributed in shifts at City Hall or ceremonies may be conducted outside, Violante said.

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