By Marty Farmer
In Oak Park, the real estate agents' mantra of location, location, location could just as easily apply to coveted parking spaces in town.
That's the primary reason why the Spanish-American War Memorial rock was relocated, enabling the Park District of Oak Park to add extra parking spots based on the new Ridgeland Common Recreation Complex's configuration.
"The contractor used a large crane to move it onto a flatbed truck and carried it west for new placement," said Diane Stanke, park district marketing director, about the memorial rock. "The park district has added plantings and [the memorial] is in a much more visible location near the entrance to the sports fields."
The memorial, which weighs somewhere between 8 and 13 tons, was previously located south of the sidewalk centered in the northside of the Ridgeland Common parking lot.
The debut of the memorial rock in its relocated digs served as part of the park district's grand reopening of the Ridgeland Common Recreation Complex on Saturday. Residents flocked to the RCRC over the weekend to check out the Paul Hruby Ice Arena and the pool with its wading pool and penguin slide and numerous spray play features.
The new lobby featured a customer service kiosk and spacious lobby area with free Wi-Fi among many other upgrades throughout the facility and grounds.
Dedicated on November 11, 1928 at Ridgeland Common, the memorial rock honors those who served with arms in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Uprising in China. Commander Fred L. Stock of the Oak Park Camp of United Spanish War Veterans presided over the dedication held on a Sunday afternoon.
The rock was given to the Park Board of Oak Park by Mrs. Walter G. Bentley in 1924. Her late husband had the rock imported on a flat car after admiring it on several occasions in Devil's Lake, Wis. where it laid close to a railroad track on a spur to the lake. Considered a rare specimen of unusual formation, the rock was commonly referred to as "the elephant."
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