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Blast to the past

Park dist. bringing back rocket slide as part of $1.2M project at Memorial

By Laura Bollin

Memorial Park in Oak Lawn is going back in time. More specifically, it is going back to the 1960s, when it was known as Rocket Slide Park.

Oak Lawn Park District director Maddie Kelly said the park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue, will undergo a $1.2 million renovation this summer. Among the imrpovements will be a return of the beloved rocket ship slide, only bigger and better than before.

"I used to ride my bike from Beverly [in Chicago] up there when I was a kid, it was such a cool slide," Kelly said. "Now, we are replacing the whole playground, and it will all have a rocket ship theme. The rocket ship slide is going to be a huge slide that looks like a tall rocket ship, with all sorts of space toys on it. It's going to be really, really cool."

The park district received at $400,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help cover the costs of the renovation. Other upgrades will include a splash pad, new playground, bathrooms, walking trails, tennis courts, areas for bean bags and horseshoes, and two full basketball courts.

"We're resurfacing everything so it'll be like playing on a brand new court," Kelly said.

The park district also plans to replace a dilapidated picnic shelter with one covered with a green roof. The shelter will be about the same size as the existing one, and will accommodate as many as 15 people.

Visitors will also see improvements to Memorial Pond. The park district will install a new pier, and add plants and a log fence and rock outcroppings for fishing.

"That park has been in disarray for a long time, and it is an eyesore and an embarrassment to us," Kelly said. "It is going to rejuvenate the whole neighborhood. It will be a place people want to move because it is such a beautiful park."

Kelly expects the renovations to be completed by the end of the summer.