Elmwood Park church to find new life as park
Centennial Park site plan
Updated: October 29, 2012 7:07PM
ELMWOOD PARK — A church vacant for several years will soon serve the community as a park.
Elmwood Park trustees have agreed to demolish the Elmwood Park Presbyterian Church, 7600 W. Armitage Ave., and replace it with a park. The church demolition will cost $105,000.
Village Manager Paul Volpe said demolition should be completed by the end of November. Some items, such as the church’s stained glass windows, church pews and parts of the actual structure, will be salvaged and reintegrated into the park.
“We’re going to pull out four of the windows and display the windows as some sort of a historical reminder,” he said. “We’re going to have the stone monument and sign remain in place and keep the archway on the north side.”
“It’s a unique reuse of structural elements,” he said.
Once completed, the park, which is a little less than an acre in size, will be named Centennial Park, to commemorate the village’s coming 100th anniversary.
This park will offer different features than most. The park will have benches, game tables, a bocce/shuffleboard court and raised flower beds.
“There will be an outdoor fitness court where people can actually go and work out in the park,” Volpe said.
Still, neighbors who live around the church maintain a strong connection to it.
Theresa Schultz, who lives on the 2000 block of 76th Avenue, just across the street from the east side of the church, said she will miss seeing the cross on the side of the building from her front window during the winter.
“I hate to see the church go,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”
She has lived in the neighborhood since 1998 and has fond memories of seeing weddings at the church from her front door. “I would watch the bride and groom come out,” she said.
Maria Fournaris, who lives on the same block, said she’s against people tearing down churches.
“I’m not super religious, but it’s not a good message,” she said. “It’s the house of God.”
May Samuelian, who lives on the 7600 block of Armitage Avenue, said youth already hang out at the church and believes it may attract more loitering, especially at night. “I’m concerned that it (the park) will be a magnet for kids,” she said.
Volpe said the park will be geared not just toward youth, but everyone.
“It’s offering safe, accessible and innovative activities and levels of physical challenges for all,” he said. “It’s more suitable for the garden club and the seniors club, but provides multi–generational fitness.”
A portion of the park’s construction is being paid by a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Volpe said the park should be completed by the middle of next year.