Pipe piles for the floating dock have been installed. Crews are wrapping up work for the season and will return in early spring.

About the Project

High lake levels accompanied by intense storms over the past few years caused damage to the breakwater wall/barge and concrete ramp at Park Avenue Boating Beach. These extreme weather conditions have affected communities all along the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline.  

At the April 27 meeting, the Park Board approved construction of Phase 1 of the Park Avenue Breakwater Project in the amount of $2,221,890. The base scope of this project includes removal of the existing barge breakwater and boat ramp, stockpiling and salvaging existing breakwater fill and armor stone, construction of a new steel sheet pile breakwater with a concrete crown wall and construction of a new concrete boat launch.   Funding for the project includes $2,000,000 from the Park District’s capital fund and $400,000 from the Parks Foundation of Highland Park, made possible from community donations

Boardwalk construction and site restoration have been completed. The site remains closed awaiting the fabrication and installation of the required stair handrails. The site is anticipated to open in early February.

About the Project

In summer 2019, Park District began working with engineering firms, contractors, and the US Army Corps of Engineers to investigate numerous repair approaches and reopen the path and Dog Beach. In early 2020, an engineering firm was hired to develop preliminary site improvement plans. Those plans were presented to the Park Board in August 2020. After careful consideration, the Park Board elected to defer the final design phase to a future year. Repair of the beach access path is a goal in the Lakefront Master Plan Update. The project’s final design was included in the 2021 Capital Plan, and construction began as scheduled in 2022. 

Renovation Project

The foundation for the new entry vestibule has been poured. Inside the building, crews continue to work on roughing in utilities in advance of the interior finishes.

About the Project

During regular annual maintenance in June, staff uncovered an unknown issue on the Centennial rink floor. The Park District acted swiftly to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the facility and ice flooring system with an engineering firm. The findings confirmed that the building is structurally sound. However, the rink floor had been compromised and requires complete replacement.  

The Park District is partnering with Fill a Heart 4 Kids to help local homeless and at-risk youth stay nourished through the Thanksgiving school break. Food donations will be accepted Tuesday, Nov 1- Sunday, Nov 13 at the following locations :

Recreation Center of Highland Park
1207 Park Avenue W.

Lincoln School
711 Lincoln Ave W.

Deer Creek Racquet Club
701 Deer Creek Pkwy.

Highland Park City Hall
1707 St. Johns Ave.

West Ridge Center
636 Ridge Rd.

Public Works/Services Facility
1150 Half Day Rd.

Highland Park Senior Center
1201 Park Avenue W. 

Items Needed:

  • Nutri-Grain Breakfast Bars (no nuts)
  • Full-size Box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Rice Chex Cereal
  • Single Serve Microwave Oatmeal Packets
  • Tuna Packets
  • Chicken Salad Packets
  • Hormel Microwave Shelf Stable Meals
  • Rice-A-Roni 
  • Full-size Kraft Mac & Cheese Boxes
  • Ramen Noodles
  • Plastic Jar of Pasta Sauce
  • Box of Pasta Noodles

Volunteer at our sorting and packing party!

Mon Nov 14 • 1-6:30pm
West Ridge Center • 636 Ridge Rd.
Multiple time slots available

Updates from the September Park Board Meetings

September 14: Workshop Meeting of the Park Board

The Park Board of Commissioners approved Ordinance 2022-05: Authorizing and Providing for the Conveyance or Sale of Surplus Personal Property and the First Amendment to the Centennial Ice Arena Locker Room License Agreement.

Staff provided construction updates for the Park Avenue Breakwater and Boat Ramp project, the Moraine Path Improvement project, the Centennial Ice Arena Renovation and Site Improvements project, the Millard Bluff Grading and Tree Removal project, the Fink Park Athletic Field Development project, and the Old Elm Trail Connection Feasibility Study.

Staff recommended elements from the approved Sunset Woods Master Plan for the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant program administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The competitive grant program provides up to 50% funding support to develop public outdoor recreation areas. This year $56M is available through the grant program, and the maximum individual award is $600,000. The application is due on September 30, 2022.

The Park District is working with a third-party consultant GovHRUSA to conduct an employee Compensation and Classification Study to attract and retain a productive workforce. Simultaneously, the Park District is redefining our Values to create a clear focus on what drives day-to-day decision-making, inspires leadership, and holds our organization, teams, and individuals accountable. The desired outcome of redefining Park District Values is a relentless focus on values-driven leadership, values-driven culture, and values-driven strategic initiatives that are simple, compelling, and aligned with our Mission (why we exist) and our Vision (what we aspire to do).

Lastly, staff reviewed the 2023 Proposed Budget Timeline.

September 28: Regular Meeting of the Park Board

The Park Board of Commissioners approved the Athletic Fields Capital Campaign Project Change Order Agreement for the Non-Profit Coach consulting services, the base bid proposal, and alternates 1 and 2 from RES Environmental Operating Company, LLC in the amount of $319,300 for the 2022-2023 Millard Bluff Grading and Tree Removal project, and the OSLAD Grant Resolution Authorization, allowing the Park District of Highland Park to apply for funding assistance to implement the Sunset Woods Master Plan.

Staff provided an update on pickleball operations and recommendations to expand outdoor opportunities.

September 29: Policy Committee Meeting

The Policy Committee conducted an exercise to root the proposed redefined values into the District’s operational framework.

Día De Los Muertos

3,000 years of celebrating life!

Join Us for our First Día de los Muertos Celebration!

Sat., Nov 5 • 1–4pm
West Ridge Center • 636 Ridge Road
(Event was originally located at The Preserve of Highland Park but will be held at West Ridge Center due to weather)

FREE Event! Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future, and Bridging Our Communities!

And help start a Highland Park – Highwood tradition!

Lots of delicious food from a variety of vendors will be available to purchase. We will have a community ofrenda/altar; if you wish to have a picture on our altar, please bring a photo with you or contact Jessica Reyes at jreyes@pdhp.org. We look forward to celebrating with all of you!

A History of this Unique 3,000-year-old Celebration of Life

The roots of Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, go back more than 3,000 years in Europe, Spain, and to the Aztecs who lived in rural, indigenous areas of what is now central Mexico. In Europe, celebrations of the harvest took place in the fall, and the rituals were adopted as part of two Roman Catholic holidays—All Saints Day and All Souls Day—celebrated on the first two days of November. The cycle of life and death are entwined with the annual cycle of crops that grow from the ground where the remnants of the last harvest have been turned under and nurture the soil.
 
On Día de los Muertos, the border separating the real world from the spirit world dissolves, and the souls of the dead awaken, returning to eat and drink, dance, and play music with their family and friends. The living honor the deceased as guests in the celebrations. They prepare their favorite foods and leave them as offerings on the ofrendas (alters) built in their homes, as well as at gravesites. Ofrendas are decorated with candles to light the path back to the living. Brightly colored marigolds—called cempasuchil—are spread on the alter to guide the souls with their enticing fragrance. You should wish someone a happy day by saying, “Feliz día de los Muertos.”

Seven Things You Should Know About Día de los Muertos

1. El Día de los Muertos is not, as is commonly thought, a Mexican version of Halloween although the holidays do share traditions, including wearing costumes and marching in parades.

2. Calaveras, or skulls, are a unique symbol of Día de los Muertos. Elaborately decorated ceramic and papier-mâché skulls are worn throughout the festivities. Sugar skulls that are decorated with colored icing, (and often feathers and foil) are placed on offrendas. Simple sugar skulls, with just icing, are eaten and enjoyed by children of all ages. The famous La Calavera Cantina (the Elegant Skull) was created as a political statement by Mexican printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada in 1910. Her fancy dress and hat, along with her white makeup, have been an integral part of the holiday ever since.

Día de los Muertos offrenda

3. The ofrenda has always been an important part of the celebration, and today the alter is perhaps the most recognized symbol of Día de los Muertos. It is a way for families to honor their loved ones and provide them what they need on their journey from the spirit world. An ofrenda must include the four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Bread is used to represent Earth. Wind is represented by traditional paper banners, called Papel picado. Candles light the way and can be placed in the form of a cross, which indicates the cardinal directions. Water is often presented in a pitcher, so the spirits can quench their thirst. if you wish to have a picture on our altar, please bring a photo with you or contact Jessica Reyes at jreyes@pdhp.org.

Día de los Muertos Monarch Butterfly

4. Monarch butterflies play a unique role in celebrations of Día de los Muertos because they hold the spirits of the departed. This lovely thought is tied to the arrival of the first monarchs in Mexico each fall, at the start of the holiday on Nov. 1.

5. The Día de los Muertos celebration spans two days: All Saints Day, Nov. 1, is the day to remember children who have passed. All Soul’s Day, Nov. 2, is the day when we honor adults.

Día de los Muertos Pan de Muertos.

6. Dessert! It’s what so many people look forward to during the celebrations. Pastries and sweets are central to the holiday, and one of the most loved is Pan de Muertos, a sweet, delicious bread, coated in sugar, and decorated to look like a pile of bones.

7. Día de los Muertos is not a somber occasion… it’s a joyous holiday and a celebration of life! It’s bright and colorful, with parties, music, dancing, and decorations everywhere you look. Classic Mexican traditions include calaveritas (short, humorous poems) that are a clever way to talk about, and poke fun at, difficult topics—like the Grim Reaper!

The Fitness Club at the Rec Center offers amazing group fitness classes if you prefer to workout with a group, one-on-one personal training for individual coaching, and the best of cardiovascular and strength equipment to help you feel better and be better! After a busy summer, fall is the time to focus on you. We are here to help you get stronger and improve your health so you can experience life to the fullest. Are YOU ready to get fit, have fun, and get happy? Take a look at these one-of-a-kind fitness offerings:

Start your day in the most breathtaking way – with a Yoga class at Rosewood Beach! Classes are held year-round on the boardwalk and in the Interpretive Center, where the wooded bluffs and soothing sounds of Lake Michigan add their special je ne sais quoi to each session. Yoga has significant proven health benefits, including back pain relief; reduced stress; increased energy; and improving your overall strength, balance and flexibility. Sign up today!

Indoor cycling has never been this rewarding – or this much fun! The Rec Center has 21 Stages Premier SC3 Cycling bikes that engage each rider with a personalized, immersive, interactive experience via the Stages Studio Plus display. Our instructors are dedicated to your success and are pros at keeping you motivated and moving toward your individual fitness goal. Get started with Group Exercise Classes.

Here’s a pro fitness tip: We make it easy for you to try everything in the Rec Center with a two-week Trial Membership. Interested? Come into the Rec Center to get started today!

Getting into the swim of things – Every summer, Open Water Swim in Lake Michigan, at Rosewood Beach, is one of our most popular programs. Once you try it, you’ll know why! Read about it here. With the change of season and the closing of our outdoor pools, now is the perfect time to add indoor lap swimming to your fitness routine. The 6-lane, 25-yard pool provides Rec Center members with open swim/lap swim times every day, to make it easier for you to set a consistent schedule. Wondering about lap swimming as exercise? It’s easy on the joints and it has a meditative quality because you focus on your movement and breathing. Here are a few more of the benefits you can expect from swimming laps:

Change it up and move your fitness routine outdoors! – Because the Rec Center is located at our newest park, The Preserve of Highland Park, you can take easily advantage of the walking & biking trails and the woodlands & gardens throughout this unique 100+ acre green space.

Fun Fit Events – Staying fit is important all year, and we have extra special happenings every season to help keep you motivated! The popular Twisted Turkey Triathlon in November is a non-competitive event where everyone is welcome, everyone wins— and every participant gets a T-shirt! It features 10 minutes of swimming, a 20-minute Run/Walk, and 40 minutes of Indoor Cycling, plus lots of great drawing prizes. Now’s the time to start training for this fun community event, where we all get Calories Out before putting Calories In during the holidays. Learn more and sign up today!

A word about Fitness Memberships: Affordable.

Our Annual Memberships and Short-Term Passes give you options to meet YOUR needs for creating a workout plan that fits your schedule, your budget, and your goals for getting and staying healthy. Try a variety of classes and equipment with a Day Access, Week Pass, or 10-Punch Pass before you commit to an Annual Membership. Read all about them here, then give us a call and take a tour of the Rec Center with our friendly, knowledgeable staff. See you soon!

What’s in, what’s out, what’s right for you.

Before we start, let’s get one thing straight: we’re talking trends here, not fads.

At the Recreation Center of Highland Park Fitness Club, we’re always researching, learning, and implementing the best of the current health & fitness trends, so you can work out efficiently and get the results you want. Starting in 2020, through 2021, and into 2022, we offered a wide range of unprecedented programs that kept you moving, breathing, stretching, and getting stronger. Smaller classes. Outdoor classes. Hybrid classes. Online classes. All designed and run by our expert instructors, with changes and updates to keep the workouts interesting, and keep you motivated.

After a full summer of family activities, this fall is the perfect time for you to get back to your personal workout routine, and we’re ready with a combination of classes, equipment, and instructors to help you be healthy, fit, and happy!

Here’s what’s happening now in fitness centers around the world and right here at your Rec Center Fitness Club. 

Wearable Technology. This has been high on the list of every survey for the past seven years, and it’s the #1 trend for 2022. Activity trackers from all the major brands—including Apple,® Garmin,® Polar,® and Fitbit®—are on everyone’s wish list. There’s a tracker to fit any budget, and different ones are rated best for running, swimming, cycling, and strength workouts. These devices track a wide range of activities and help you monitor daily steps, calories burned, heart rate, blood pressure, and even your sleep habits. All of those are important to your overall health, and in 2022 more people are using wearable technology inside and outside the gym. What about fitness apps? The surveys say more people prefer to wear their fitness trackers on their wrist throughout the day vs using a smartphone app.

Fitness facilities, including your Recreation Center, are fast becoming the new community center and an important place for social networking. We talked with dozens of our members over the past few months, and what we heard over and over was that working out at the Rec Center simply made you feel happier. Office workers have shifted to remote work, and their time in the gym not only improves health and relieves stress, it’s where so many of you look forward to face-to-face interaction with a supportive community. At-home workouts have been popular, but training with an instructor and other fitness enthusiasts offers a completely different experience. So, while we still offer hybrid and online classes, we all look forward to welcoming you back to in-person training in our safe, friendly environment.

Let’s talk specifics. There are a number of fitness trends that have moved up in the rankings this year (and some that are not as popular as before). Here’s a bit about the ones at the top of every list:

Strength training with free weights. We have a dedicated strength training area at the Rec Center, and we’ve certainly seen the growth in popularity with our members. What does it do? Simple: It helps you become stronger. Why is that important? For basic daily activities like keeping up with your kids and carrying groceries. For athletes, it builds endurance, speed, and power. It increases your metabolic rate and helps burn lots of calories. Strength training can lead to better balance, help you manage weight, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and is proven to improve bone density. It can also help to control stress and anxiety. Talk to our staff and see if a consistent strength training routine is right for you.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been among the top-rated exercise programs for almost 10 years. It involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest. A HIIT fitness regimen is also in line with the move towards shorter workouts of 45 minutes or less. Try a class and see why it continues to be so popular.

Personal Training includes fitness testing and individualized goal setting. You work one-on-one with a trainer as they develop workouts specific to your personal fitness needs and goals. Training this way got a boost recently due to online availability but is now moving back into the Rec Center where it is truly more personal. Find out more.

Stretch and Recover. Recognized as excellent preventive fitness for all athletes, to minimize time away from the game and regular workouts, this is now de rigueur for post-injury exercising. Stretch and recover programs include Yoga, which also offers an increase in strength, and helps stress management.

Outdoor fitness programs. While walking, hiking, and running have been popular for decades, organized outdoor fitness classes led by our dedicated instructors are so much more fun at The Preserve of Highland Park, surrounding the Recreation Center. Three seasons of beautiful flora and fauna put you in an atmosphere that just can’t be duplicated. It’s a fitness experience quite unlike any other.

What’s new this fall? Here are just a few fun fitness programs we’re super excited about.

KidsClub (formerly KidFit) is back! Our safe and fun childcare services let you concentrate on your fitness routine while you’re at the Rec Center. KidsClub membership options include unlimited childcare, use of the beautiful indoor pool, and lots of open-gym time. Learn more about KidsClub.

Adult Full Court Basketball. Hey ballers…want to get in an energizing game with your friends and neighbors before going off to work? Gym times are being set up now for the fall. Don’t miss out—join the Rec Center today! Learn more about Open Gym.

Indoor drop-in pickleball. You asked for it, you’ve been waiting for it, and we are thrilled to offer it! Stay tuned for the days and times that play will be available. Drop-in for a daily fee, get a 10-play pass, or save on every game with a Recreation Center Fitness Club membership. Looking for a Pickleball League? We have them. Are you new to Pickleball? We have lessons! Read more here.

Wiggle Time is coming this October. Get out of the house and give your little ones room to play on our beautiful basketball courts. We provide balls, scooters, and lots of other fun equipment for kids to enjoy. Stay tuned for more information!

Stages Studio Spin – Indoor cycle enthusiasts will be blown away by our newest boutique experience at our Fitness Club. Stages Studio Pro Plus Cycling combines top-of-the-line indoor cycle bikes used in premier facilities across the globe along with exciting color-based interactive visual group display, music videos, and more. This experience levels the playing field for everyone to individually maximize their ride, feel good, have fun, and achieve goals. 

If you have any questions, contact Jodi DiTomasso, Fitness Manager, at jditomasso@pdhp.org

Updates from the September Park Board Meetings

August 10: Finance Committee Meeting 

Staff reviewed the long-term emergency replacement proposals for the compromised ice rink floor at Centennial Ice Arena and provided a recommendation. The Park Board awarded the project to Ice Builders, Inc. The emergency replacement project is estimated to cost approximately $1.5 million and will take approximately six months to complete.  

Staff also reviewed the bid results from the 2022 Centennial Ice Arena Renovation and Site Improvements Project and provided a recommendation. It was the consensus of the Park Board to proceed with the bid from Stuckey Construction which includes lobby renovations, removal of the concession area, updated locker and restrooms, along with an improved drop-off area and vehicle turn-around, resurfaced parking lots with more lighting and pedestrian connections, and drainage improvements to protect the infrastructure.  

Lastly, staff provided an update of the District’s Ten-Year Funding Model.

August 10: Workshop Meeting Of The Park Board

Finding in accordance with Park District Code, Article 8, Section 1, that–due to the unique circumstances present in this case concerning the nature of the work and the timing required–the replacement work for the Centennial Ice Arena is not adapted to award by competitive bidding; and, further, The Park Board of Commissioners authorized the Executive Director to enter into an Agreement with Ice Builders for design and construction services, labor and materials for the Centennial Ice Arena Rink Replacement Project in the amount of $1,391,790, subject to final contract document approval by Park District Corporate Counsel, Ancel Glink.

August 17: Facility And Recreation Committee Meeting

Architect consultants, Holabird and Root, and Construction Managers, Gilbane Construction Company, provided a progress of the conceptual plans and plan to deliver cost estimates at the next meeting.

August 18: Finance Committee Meeting 

Staff reviewed the quarterly treasurer’s report and financial forecasts by fund through July 31, 2022.

Staff also reviewed the bid opening for the 2022 Facility and Parks Asphalt Improvements Project and provided a contract recommendation. The project would replace cart path holes 2, 3, 4, and 5, repair the parking lot at Heller Nature Center parking, and stripe the parking lot at Sunset Woods Park. Staff received consensus from the Finance Committee to place the contract from Troch McNeil Paving Company on the consent agenda at the August 24 Regular Meeting.

August 24: Regular Meeting Of The Park Board

Staff provided a review of the design renderings and floor plan layouts for the facility and entry renovations for the 2022 Centennial Ice Arena Renovation Improvement Project. The Park Board of Commissioners accepted base bid Items 1-10 and 12-14, alternates 3,7,11,12,14 from Stuckey Construction for the 2022 Centennial Ice Arena Renovation Improvement Project, authorizing the Executive Director to enter into an Agreement in the amount of $3,533,755. The Park Board of Commissioners also accepted change order 1 amounting to a deduct of $36,858 from the project.

Staff reviewed the Park Avenue Breakwater and Boat Ramp construction schedule. Mobilization begins September 6. The concrete launch ramp and sand ramp will be closed during construction, motorized watercraft can use the Lloyd Beach boat launch with the Winnetka Park District.  Non-motorized watercraft can launch from the south beach on weeknights and weekends.

Staff received consensus from the Park Board of Commissioners to sell the 552 Electric Zamboni and request approval of a ratified Ordinance Providing for the Conveyance or Sale of Surplus Personal Property at the September 14 Workshop meeting.

With over 700 acres of land, 45 parks, four beaches and nine facilities, the Park District of Highland Park is one of the largest and certainly one of the most diverse districts in Illinois. 

View a summary of the Park District’s progress in 2021, in our Annual Report