Category Archives: Parks and Recreation

Normal to host another ASA national softball tournament in 2011

Normal’s bid to host another national softball tournament  hit the jackpot in Reno, Nevada.

Normal Parks and Recreation and the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau staff report that Normal was awarded the 2011  ASA Women’s Under 18 national championships to be played at Champion Fields.  image002

With stiffer competition for championship softball tournaments, the winning bid demonstrates the quality of our tournament staff, our fields, and the hospitality of our community.    Normal beat out a number of other larger cities.

This year’s women’s 18 and under tournament attracted 144 teams.    In late July and early August of 2011, as many as 1,500 players, their coaches, and family members will stay several days here and  generate lots of business for the entire area.

A Pantagraph sports story from this past summer’s tournament indicated that travel softball families aren’t afraid to spend money even in a tight economy.

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Brewster visits the Normal Dog Park and has a ball

The Nielsen’s don’t own a dog.   

The closest thing to our family having a dog (and that’s close enough) is Brewster. 

Brewster is a very big, likeable dog from Mundelein, who introduced me Sunday to the Normal dog park.  The dog park is one of Brewster's favorite stomping grounds when he visits Normal.

Brewster is a very big, likeable dog from Mundelein, who introduced me Sunday to the Normal dog park. The dog park is one of Brewster's favorite stomping grounds when he visits Normal.

 

Brewster is Amy and Rick’s dog from Mundelein.   Amy and Rick are my in-laws and parents of my baby nephew Ryan.

My daughter Bekah tosses a tennis ball to her aunt and uncle's dog Brewster at the Normal dog park on Sunday morning.

My daughter Bekah tosses a tennis ball to her aunt and uncle's dog Brewster at the Normal dog park on Sunday morning.

Brewster’s big, playful, and likes to run.  Our yard isn’t big enough to contain him, so when he’s in Town he visits the Normal dog park at Maxwell Park.  The dog park sits near the Town’s horseshoe pit and our disc golf course and is accessible at the driveway entrance to the park at Parkside and Gregory.  

Inside the dog park, Brewster chased a tennis ball with Rick, Amy, and my daughter Bekah, who would love to have her own dog. (Sorry Sweetie, ain’t gonna happen.)   And he ran along the fence line looking in the distance at early morning softball games being played at Champion Fields.

Even a big dog like Brewster can stretch his legs at the Normal dog park.

Even a big dog like Brewster can stretch his legs at the Normal dog park.

The dog park is a great place to work out the hound and socialize.  The place is clean, well maintained and nicely landscaped.   A dog park can’t have enough trees.    There are also benches for owners to sit and relax.    Clearly, dog owners are picking up after their pets and there seems to be plenty of room to run even for big dogs like Brewy.    

Sunday morning found one other dog owner at the park, a gentleman with a four-month old puppy that reminded us of Benji.    Good thing little Benji was on the other side of the fence in another part of the park because Brewster would have had him for a snack.

The dog park also has a drinking fountain for people and animals.  The dog dish is at ground level. 

A wet spot on the concrete near the dog dish turned into a mud puddle and that’s where Brewster decided was a good place to lie down.   It meant Brewster had to take a little bath before he was readmitted into the Nielsen home.

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State agency drags its feet; timetable slides for Fairview Pool improvements

By now, the big pile of dirt was supposed to be well on its way to becoming a tower to launch three new slides at Fairview Pool.

What a bummer to learn that the Illinois Department of Public Health has delayed approval of a needed construction permit for the project, which also includes a new water playground. 

Instead of being ready on Memorial Day weekend when Fairview Pool opens, it’s unclear when the slides and spray park will open.

At the end of last swimming season, crews ripped out the two old water slides and planned to open the pool this Memorial Day weekend with three new slides, including a tube slide, and a body slide, and a speed flume.

At the end of last swimming season, crews ripped out the two old water slides and planned to open the pool this Memorial Day weekend with three new slides, including a tube slide, and a body slide, and a speed flume.

What could possibly be the hold up?   If the Town of Normal took more than seven month to issue a building permit, that would be unacceptable.

With the Illinois Department of Public Health, I think we’re talking about the same state agency that banned the Town’s popular end-of-the-year dog swim.   Evidently, someone there feared that chlorine and the passage of fall, winter, and most of spring weren’t enough to  kill “dog germs.”

If they saw what we had out there for the last few years, they would have immediately approved the permit.  I used to tell my son, “if this thing collpases, jump down there.”

On the bright side, one of the advantages of the new park is that the Town will be able to keep the slides open without having to operate the rest of the Fairview Pool.  Every year, the Town begins to lose its part time aquatics staff in mid-August and closes Anderson Pool early.

Operating the slides seperately will require fewer lifeguards, so it’s possible we could experience the thrill of new slides for as long as it stays warm.

Of course, it’s pretty difficult to imagine today that we’re anywhere near swimming weather.

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Ironwood Golf Course bucks a trend and finishes in the black

The Masters starts in a week.

Tiger Woods is back to his winning ways.

And Ironwood Golf Course, after a long hiatus, is back in the black, as it was expected to finish the just completed fiscal year with a small profit.

That’s impressive.10puttinggreen

Especially when you consider the drop off in golf participation nationally and the very tough competition among courses in this area.

Of course, Ironwood’s quality is so much higher today than it was a few years ago when the Town council approved a staff recommendation to hire a full time maintenance superintendent and take course maintenance in house. 

Ironwood has never looked back.

Over the past two years, the Town has installed a new irrigation system.   And the greens are now always in incredible shape.

Ironwood residents speak highly of the new golf course management.  An excellent, well managed course can’t help but improve neighboring property values. 

Congratulations to the Parks and Rec administration, course manager and pro Craig Onsrud, and maintenance superintendent Rob Hale.

Well done.

Rounds played at Ironwood in recent years:

2005 — 26,015

2006 — 20,336

2007 — 23,464

2008 — 23,999

(Source: 2008 Town of Normal Annual Report)

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