Yardley succeeds Seaton

Gary Balling announced Thursday that 12-year Oak Park Conservatory veteran Henrietta Yardley has been promoted to manager of that facility, effective immediately.

Balling praised Yardley, who was head grower under recently retired manager John Seaton. She has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Illinois, Chicago and a bachelor’s in ornamental horticulture from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

“Henrietta brings an exceptional amount of experience, knowledge and dedication to horticulture and the conservatory,” Balling said. “She has demonstrated great skills in working with members of the community and the park district staff.”  

Before working for the park district, Yardley spent 18 years in investment banking.

Neil Adams began work the Monday before last as the park district’s new project manager. He will directly oversee a variety of construction and landscape renovation projects at the park district.

Adams held a similar position with the Naperville Park District the past three years. Before that, he worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Fox Valley Park District. Adams has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois and another in sociology from St. Xavier; he also has a master’s in public service management from DePaul University. 

“We’ve been doing a lot of work on implementation,” said Balling. “This will allow me to get about the business of managing and do things more at the strategic level.” Adams, he said, will be the detail man overseeing the nuts and bolts of individual projects. “We have lots of facilities that need lots of attention.”

OP Parks approve $1.9 million for Fox, Longfellow

The Park District of Oak Park board of commissioners voted 4-0, the Thursday before last, to authorize proceeding with $1,894,000 in long-awaited renovations to Longfellow and Fox centers. Park commissioners also approved $161,000 in additional repairs to a badly degraded system of cooling pipes under Ridgeland Common’s Paul Hruby Ice Rink.

Park District Executive Director Gary Balling appeared particularly pleased with the fact that 55 percent of the nearly $1.4-million tab for the Longfellow renovations was being paid for through grants, including a $400,000 State of Illinois OSLAD grant.

Both Fox and Longfellow will see previously sunken play areas filled and raised to grade level. Each renovation project has a separate budget for building modifications and the construction of retaining walls and fill needed for the old playgrounds. The budget for such work at Longfellow is $464,000, for Fox $206,000.

Ice rink repairs should last 5 years

Commissioners also authorized significant repairs to the cooling system under the ice rink. Balancing the need to avoid a repeat of last year’s unscheduled rehab of corroded pipes at the start of the skating season against the elevated expense of major repairs, commissioners chose to spend $161,000 to assure uninterrupted use of the ice until a new rink is built in four or five years.

Selected work changes may bring the final cost closer to the originally budgeted figure of $140,000.

Rather than wait for what they consider inevitable breakdowns in the remaining pipes, staff recommended replacing the first 6-8 inches of each of the remaining 230 pipes. Last year, an expert assessment of the remaining cooling pipes in the system estimated the remaining pipes are 80-90 percent corroded.

“It’s just indicative of all the things that are starting to [go wrong] at that facility,” said Park board President Mark Gartland.

“In order to finish off the next four or five years in anticipation of a new facility, we recommend making repairs to all 230 remaining pipes,” said Hamilton. Plans call for cutting back three feet of concrete and cooling pipes and replacing them with steel pipe. Besides offering the strongest repairs to the cooling system, the option will allow for uncovering the end sections of the pipe for visual inspection, allowing an assessment of actual conditions.

Hamilton agreed the park district was playing it safe. “If it happened during the season, it would be down potentially 4-5 weeks,” he said, adding that the work will be done between the closing of the summer camp program, Aug. 9, and the scheduled opening of the rink, Oct. 1.

Join the discussion on social media!