Letter: Kiwanis Park has long history

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Regarding the issue of a land swap for DeKalb Kiwanis Park between the DeKalb School District 428 and ShoDeen Development, the concerns of the DeKalb Kiwanis Club stand with the children of DeKalb.

In 1974, the Kiwanis Club of DeKalb established DeKalb Kiwanis Park. The club contracted a long-term lease from the Fairview Cemetery Association for the land at the corner of South Fourth Street and Fairview Drive.

It was used for softball until it was graded for soccer fields in 1979. The cost for developing the park was about $50,000.

Through the 1980s, the club purchased and installed goal cages and nets for eight soccer fields. Since then, the park has been the hub of soccer activities in DeKalb. It regularly hosts AYSO, Park District and private soccer leagues such as the Northern Illinois Football Club (NIFC).

The club has remained active in supporting the park. Among other activities, the club fostered the green space by planting a row of trees along Route 23 from Fairview Drive to the then DeKalb High School.

In September 1991, at a cost of about $1,000, water lines were run and a water fountain was installed and dedicated to the memory of members John "Tuck" Huntzicker and Ivan Kirkhus. In 2000, at a cost of about $15,000, the shelter house at the park was constructed, and the next year it was dedicated as the Harold and Ruth Wright Kiwanis Shelter House.

The DeKalb School District purchased the park about 10 years ago as a possible site for the new high school. The site was never used for construction since the new High School was built on the north side of town.

Our vision remains to have a recreational area for the children of DeKalb to gather with family and friends within the healthy "spirit of competition" in team sports, such as soccer, or softball or football.

The international goal of Kiwanis is to "Serve the Children of the World." The Kiwanis Club of DeKalb plans to support that goal by continuing to "Serve the Children of DeKalb."

On the field of competitive sports, children learn to play by the rules, set goals of performance and work as a team. Family members and players meet and make new friends and develop ties in the community. These are worthy goals we intend to continue to foster in DeKalb.

Tarryn Thaden

President, Kiwanis Club of DeKalb

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