Grant helps Harwood Heights school build new playground, garden
Union Ridge School District received a $25,000 boost from Norwood Park Township to create an educational garden and to update playground equipment on the northeast corner of district property. | Cathryn Gran~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 7:07AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Plans for a nature sanctuary in Harwood Heights have received a boost.
The Norwood Park Township has approved giving Union Ridge School, 4600 N. Oak Park Ave., a $25,000 grant to create a garden and a new playground on the west side of the property that will be available to the public.
“We are very grateful to the Township for their support for our efforts to replace unused blacktop space on the grounds of Union Ridge School with a new green park and playground for preschool-aged children,” said Union Ridge Superintendent John Kosirog.
Harwood Heights east of Harlem Avenue is not part of the Norridge Park District.
The plan to replace aging equipment and develop a new park space will benefit the entire community, Kosirog noted.
Supervisor Tom Lupo said the school district’s project is in keeping with the township’s desire to provide safe places for children, families and residents.
“We wanted to help with the building of a new garden that will be open to everyone,” he said.
Subsidizing safety programs is nothing new to the township
The township has authorized grant money to Ridgewood High School for security cameras; to the Harwood Heights Police Department to upgrade squad car technology; and to the villages of Harwood Heights and Norridge to procure mobile electronic signs used as immediate warning systems.
“And every year we allocate $3,000 for reading programs, books and iPods for the schools,” Lupo added.
The superintendent said for the last dozen or so years, the township has operated in the black.
“We haven’t have an increase in our in tax levy in 19 years,” he said. “We haven’t raised taxes and we haven’t cut programs.”
The donation to Union Ridge brings the one-school district closer to meeting its goal of raising $200,000 for the garden/playground project that also will serve as an education tool.
The new equipment will meet modern safety standards and will be designed with the developmental needs of children in mind, according to Kosirog.
The project will replace unused blacktop with trees, bushes and grass, giving the site a more natural park setting.
Plans also call for a playhouse, playground equipment that meets safety standards and a butterfly garden as well as reintroducing natural wetlands.
Teachers will be able to use the garden to exposing students to the workings of an ecosystem.
Open to the public, the garden will provide a natural setting respite.
“It’s a sign that a community cares about children and families, and cares about its future,” Kosirog said.
That future includes a growing student population, according to Principal Michael Maguire.