The City of Highland Park is now accepting nominations for several awards honoring the outstanding achievements and contributions of community members and organizations. Nominations for the 2022 Highland Park Awards may be submitted online via the City’s website at cityhpil.com/awards through February 21, 2022.

Anyone may nominate an individual member of the Highland Park community or a Highland Park business or nonprofit organization for an award; nominators should carefully review the award descriptions and nomination requirements before submitting their nomination. The recipients of the Arts, Environmental, and Humanitarian awards will be selected by the City Council with input from City advisory groups. Nominations for the Character Counts Pillar Awards will be reviewed by the Character Counts Steering Committee, a joint endeavor of the City, the Park District of Highland Park, North Shore School District 112, and Highland Park High School.

The City will host an awards ceremony on April 5, 2022, tentatively planning for this event to be held in person at Highland Park High School. Details will be posted to the City’s website at cityhpil.com/awards.

The Highland Park Awards are:

Arts Award
The Arts Award recognizes outstanding achievement in, or contributions to, the visual, performing, literature, and digital arts in Highland Park. Nominations will be reviewed by the Cultural Arts Advisory Group.

Environmental Award
The Environmental Award recognizes individuals and businesses who have made substantial contributions to improve the environment. Nominations will be reviewed by the Sustainability Advisory Group.

Humanitarian Award
The Humanitarian Award is presented to an outstanding Highland Park individual who has rendered significant, sustained service to the Highland Park community. Nominations will be reviewed by the Human Relations Advisory Group.

Character Counts Pillar Awards
The Character Counts Pillar Awards recognize community members who have demonstrated the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

For more information about the Highland Park Awards, including lists of previous winners, visit cityhpil.com/awards.

The Board of Park Commissioner’s monthly meetings are moving from Tuesday nights to Wednesday nights. The Park Board’s regular January meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday, January 26. On a forward-going basis, the Park Board will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month and have a workshop (meeting of the whole) on the second Wednesday of each month. 

To view the Park Board’s meeting schedule, agendas, videos, and minutes, click here

Congratulations to Centennial Ice Arena’s own Jason Brown for being named to the U.S. 2022 Olympic Figure Skating Team. A one-time resident of Highland Park and graduate of Highland Park High School, Jason learned to skate at a young age. When he was just five years old, his mother registered him in the Park District’s Learn-to-Skate tot program at Centennial, and he skated and trained at the ice arena early in his career. As his skill on the ice progressed, he began competing and succeeding in major skating competitions. In 2013, Jason became a World Junior Silver Medalist, and in 2014 he was selected to represent the United States on the men’s figure skating team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The team brought home a bronze medal. 

Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou join Brown on the U.S. figure skating team for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing from February 4 – 20.
To view the 2022 Winter Olympic Games schedule, click here. Check back to this website for updates regarding Jason Brown during the Games. Best of luck, Jason! 

There are so many things that make living in Highland Park special. We have an amazing and supportive community, beautiful landscapes, and the best location in the Midwest, right on the shores of Lake Michigan. 

Big plans for a $2.5 million improvement at the Park Avenue Boating Facility are in the works.   The project, is estimated to begin in Fall 2022 and be completed by Spring 2023 and will include a new breakwater and  boat launch.   The new breakwater will replace the existing structure that has outlived its useful life and the new launch will replace the existing launch that collapsed in 2021. 

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park, the Park District, and a group of committed Highland Park residents are determined to see this project become a reality—funding will come from Park District funds, a potential grant from the state of Illinois, and $300,000 in individual donations.

A generous individual has stepped up to offer up to $150,000 in matching funds to see that you and I can safely enjoy walking and boating at Park Avenue Beach for years to come.

Including matching funds, right now, the Foundation is more than 66% of its way to the goal with $204,000 in individual donations. 

As you consider your philanthropic giving for this year, please consider a gift of any amount to support the Park Avenue Breakwater & Boat Ramp.  Donors will receive the following recognition: 

You will be contacted in Spring 2022 with specific details on your donation recognition. For additional information, please get in touch with Liz Gogola at lgogola@pdhp.org or 847-579-3136.

About the Project

The new breakwater will have a sheet pile foundation, need little maintenance, and have an expected life of 50-70 years.  Its “pedestrian-friendly” paved surface will be approximately 22 feet wide, with benches for residents to sit and enjoy the lake.  The new concrete ramp will allow for two-way boat launches. 

The new breakwater and boat launch will make our lakefront more enjoyable and safe by:
• Protecting the beach from erosion
• Protecting the cove that allows all watercraft to launch safely
• Providing a safe place for walking and fishing, powerboating, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and events
• Maintaining a rescue boat launch for the Fire Department and water safety personnel
• Enabling the Yacht Club to launch its safety boat team for classes and races

With the project complete, all Highland Park residents can safely enjoy everything their lakefront has to offer. The project will help ensure safe water recreation activities can continue in Lake Michigan.

In addition to boating activities, the improved Park Avenue will attract and support our downtown district use and tourism. Improvements to the breakwater and boat ramp will help Highland Park retain its reputation as a vibrant boating community, attracting new business and residents.

In response to the recent steep rise in COVID-19 cases and to keep our residents and staff as safe and healthy as possible at our facilities, the Park District of Highland Park wants to remind our patrons that the State of Illinois mandates that all individuals aged two and older are required to wear a face-covering when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

 Please follow these important guidelines: 

In Lake County, the CDC Data Tracker reports a positivity rate of 16.24% over the past seven days.  We appreciate our community’s understanding and cooperation as we work together to navigate these challenging times.  Always, your health and safety are our top priority, and we will keep you updated as the situation evolves.  

The Park District encourages all eligible patrons to get vaccinated against COVID-19. For more important information about the COVID-19 vaccines, best practices to protect yourself and others, and the proper way to wear face masks from the CDC, click here

For updates on the Park District of Highland Park COVID-19 response, click here. 

Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) will collect, transport, and dispose of holiday trees left curbside and free of decorations by all customers on their primary collection day, now through January 25. A sticker is not required. Contact LRS at 773.685.8811 with questions.

Residents may also drop off trees free of decorations, wires, or other recycling materials by the Park District through January 23. Drop-off locations are in posted areas of parking lots at Larry Fink Park, 1377 Deer Creek Parkway, and Danny Cunniff Park, 2700 Trailway. Park District crews chip the trees for use as mulch. Residents are welcome to use the mulch for their own gardens and landscapes. Contact Dan Voss, Director of Parks, at 847.579.3130 or dvoss@pdhp.org with questions.

Holiday lights may be recycled at the Highland Park Recycling Center, open every Tuesday and the first Saturday of the month from 7 AM – 1 PM, at 1180 Half-Day Road.

With the cold weather comes snow and winter fun! Take a look at everything you need to know about our outdoor winter activities:

Outdoor Ice Skating

Sunset Woods Park: 1801 Sunset RoadHours:  9am-9pm daily (rink is lit by existing park lights)

When weather conditions allow (an average temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for 5 consecutive days, 5-6 inches of ground frost), Park District staff will begin flooding the ice rink at Sunset Woods Park. It takes four 24-hour days to spray and freeze the water to create a base and finish ice.

Throughout the season, the rink may be closed for snow removal or unsafe ice conditions. Sign up for the Rainout Line and get up-to-date information on the outdoor rink status.

Skating is free and the rink is sectioned off to allow for separate hockey and recreational skating. Groups should be considerate of one another.For the safety of our patrons, helmets are required in the hockey rink.  

There is no supervision or skate rental at the outdoor rink. Anyone using the ice rink should be aware that the risk of injury is present. The Park District encourages everyone to participate in this activity in a safe manner and suggests that children be supervised by a responsible adult.

Outdoor Sled Hill

Danny Cunniff Park: 2700 Trail Way Street (located toward the back of the park, just south of Centennial Ice Arena)
Hours: No set hours

The sled hill is free and open to the public. Please be aware that there is no supervision or warming facility at the sled hill. The Park District of Highland Park encourages everyone to participate in this activity in a safe manner and to follow these safety guidelines:

Throughout the season, the sled hill may be closed from time to time. Sign up for the Rainout Line and get up-to-date information on the sled hill and outdoor ice rink status.

Cross-Country Skiing

Heller Nature Center: 2821 Ridge Road 
Hours : 7:30am – Dusk 

Hit the snow on three miles of ungroomed trails at Heller Nature Center. Skis are available for rental whenever snow conditions permit (4″ base or greater). Call 847.433.6901 to check snow conditions.

$10/person: Reservations must be made online, no walk-ins.

If you have your own skis, please feel free to use our trails at your leisure from 7:30am to dusk.

Rental Time Slots:

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 9-10am, 10:15-11:15am, 11:30am-12:30pm, 12:45-1:45pm, 2-3pm, 3:15-4:15pm

Thu, Sat, Sun: 9-10am, 10:15-11:15am, 11:30am-12:30pm, 12:45-1:45pm, 2-3pm, 3:15-4:15pm, 4:30-5:30pm

At the December 16th Park Board Meeting, the Park Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance for the levy of property taxes for the calendar year 2022. The ordinance provides a 5.76% increase from the actual property taxes collected for the Park District in 2020. The request with Lake County is for $12,381,667 in property taxes. The Park District’s portion of residents’ property tax bill is approximately 6.9%.

The 2022 Park District tax levy includes a combination of a 1.4% Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase in its “tax capped funds,” new growth estimated to be approximately $22 million, and an increase in the Special Recreation Fund levy from .0245% to .04%. The Special Recreation Fund is used for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) capital improvements, member fees for the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA), and to provide complimentary program inclusion aides for participants with special needs.

In 2021, the Park District did not increase its tax levy to provide relief for residents during the height of the pandemic. Operations were adjusted while providing safe and healthy recreational outlets. The Park Board felt it was the Park District’s responsibility to do more for our residents struggling with the financial ramifications of the pandemic. As the country and our community have slowly recovered, the Park District is now in full operation, and in many cases, seeing a record number of residents seeking recreational programs and services.

Installation begins next week on a new solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant at Deer Creek Racquet Club.   The new system will provide an estimated energy savings of $4,000 or approximately 11% per year for the Club.   The Park District entered into a lease agreement with Realgy, LLC in December 2020 to provide the new Deer Creek solar plant as part of the Park District’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.  The new system will generate 180,000kWh annually, equivalent to powering over 17 average Illinois homes per year.  Utilizing solar also provides a clean alternative to coal.  The new Deer Creek system will substitute 245 tons of coal burned which means removing 127,000 lbs. of CO2 into the environment annually, the equivalent of planting 9,800 trees.  

In the agreement, the Connecticut-based Realgy will pay for the installation and ongoing maintenance of the Deer Creek PV Solar Power Plant.   The term of the lease is 25 years.  The new PV Solar Power plant is a 149 kW system.  Based on Deer Creek’s 2019 usage, the system is estimated to produce 39% of the building’s energy needs. The remainder of the energy needs will come from the power grid and be supplied by Realgy, which averages 5% below ComEd rates.  Annual credits are built into the agreement for additional savings.

It will take two to three weeks to install the new PV system on the Deer Creek roof.  Once the system is inspected, commissioned, and tested, it will be operational in January 2022.  During this time, Deer Creek will remain open for its regular hours of operation.  

“The partnership with Realgy is another example of our Park District’s ongoing efforts to provide economic, environmental, and health benefits for our residents,” said Brian Romes, executive director for the Park District of Highland Park. 

12/15/21 – New! Highwood residents can receive resident rates for 2022 Summer Camps.   To receive resident rates:

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park “Foundation Youth Initiative (FYI) Grant-in-Aid Program” is also available to qualifying Highwood families, and can help cover up to 50% of camp program fees.  For more information and to apply for an FYI scholarship, please call 847.579.3101 or email scholarships@pdhp.org.

All scholarships are awarded based on the need and availability of funds. Upon submission of a grant request, families will be notified in 15 working days of their status.