by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park accomplished a number of things in 2013 despite having a small budget.
“We have awesome people,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.
Curtis described Maple Park as a “do-it-yourself community,” making good things happen with limited resources.
One of the events this year that brought out the best in Maple Park residents was the Crazy Quail fundraiser for Special Olympics. Hosted by Maple Park resident Dean Goodenough, the successful event raised $5,000 for Illinois Special Olympics, pushing the Maple Park Police Department past its 2013 goal of $50,000 and making it the top fundraiser of Illinois law enforcement organizations.
“I’m very proud of the effort,” Curtis said. “It brought a lot of good energy to the Maple Park community.”
Thanks to Captain Nick Louis and his organization, the Airline Pilot’s Historical Society (APHS), the children of Maple Park have new playground equipment to play on in the park near the Maple Park Civic Center. The APHS picked out and purchased the equipment, and Maple Park’s Public Works Department installed it.
Curtis said the equipment, designed for children ages 10 and younger, gets a lot of use and looks great.
Progress continues on the Civic Center building, including the remodeling of the gymnasium. Curtis said a good cleaning, a paint job and a new curtain have made the room more presentable. Tuckpointing on the outside of the building continues, with the village doing a little more each year.
The village was the recipient of additional security cameras for Village Hall again this year, which monitor the building and keep a handle on vandalism.
Curtis last year said that Maple Park’s chief goal for 2013 was to be sustainable, provide quality service on a tight budget and plan maintenance projects to avoid emergency situations, and road improvements were a part of that maintenance. The village used $183,000 from the road and bridge fund on a paving project for portions of Willow, Pearl and Palmer streets.
Several village accomplishments are significant, in that they’ve been a long time coming. After many discussions over the past 10 years, village officials at the beginning of December signed a boundary agreement with the village of Cortland.
“It’s pretty historic,” Curtis said. “It speaks volumes about both boards.”
Curtis said that both boards were unanimous in their vote to seal the agreement.
“Everybody put their difference aside, and we finally got it done,” she said.
Another agreement that spent a long time in the works was the village’s acceptance of Heritage Hill’s park and pond area. After working with the developer for a number of years, the village has taken over the maintenance of the park.
“It’s shaping up to be a really nice park,” Curtis said.
Families have donated trees and benches in memory of loved ones, leading to the park’s name, Memorial Park.
Curtis is also pleased to see consistent attendance at the Police Department’s drop-in center. Set up to provide a place for the young people in Maple Park to go, the drop-in center offers games, movies and music, all under adult supervision. Curtis said there are about 30 young people there every Friday night.
Village Clerk Liz Peerboom initiated a village Facebook page this summer, where important village information is communicated to residents.
Curtis said that Peerboom is a valuable employee, keeping herself well-educated in what is needed to accomplish her responsibilities. This year, she completed the requirements to become a certified municipal clerk.
The village this year hired a new building inspector, who has begun to educate residents on village codes and property maintenance issues. The village also appointed three new Plan Commission members, for a full seven-person commission. The three new members are newer residents, whom Curtis said can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the table.
Curtis said she’s beginning to see lots being purchased, and the village is working to get things in place in anticipation of future building.
“We have a bright future,” Curtis said.