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Elm Park Celebrates Reopening Three Months After Fire

The La Grange park across the street from LTHS North Campus looks good as new after being rebuilt from a July arson; the Park District has announced a new watch program.

Play may now resume in Elm Park.

Just under three months after fireworks ignited one of the park's play structures in what Park District officials say was an intentional act of arson, causing $75,000 in damage, the playground was officially reopened at a brief ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

The rebuilt structure is virtually identical to that which burned down, save for minor modifications to better comply with current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

"We were so sad to se what damage a senseless and mean-spirited act by one or a few individuals could have on our equipment," said Park District board president Mary Ellen Penicook. "Although the individual or individuals... have not been caught, that didn't stop the Park District from rebuilding the playground as quickly as possible."

Several local families came out for the event, and kids were already climbing on the rebuilt play structures by the end of the ceremony.

Penicook and the Park District also took the opportunity to announce a new community park watch program called "Be Our Eyes" encouraging residents to "see something; say something; help protect your neighborhood parks."

"This new program will help to increase public awareness of possible troubling situations that may occur within our parks, and to prompty bring this information to local authorities," Penicook said.

"Police Chief Holub is known to say, he'd rather have 30 calls from concerned residents than none at all."

The Park District handed out "Be Our Eyes" swag, like buttons and whistles, to ceremony attendees, and announced that they will be placing new awareness signs in the parks as well.

Park District staff said that police have some leads on the arson, but nothing locked down, and that the case is still under investigation.

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