On July 1,1967, residents of Tinley Park voted to approve the formation of the Tinley Park-Park District. The Village population was 8,000. The Village turned over Lewis Park and Memorial Park to the Park District. “Moose” Nasebandt Park was purchased in 1968 and the first District program, Boys 5th-8th grade Basketball was established. In 1969 the property at 168th and 80th Avenue, now known as McCarthy Park, was acquired and named in honor of the first Chairman of the Village’s Youth Commission.
The Park District grew rapidly over the next decade, acquiring additional park properties and hiring its first full-time Director, Robert Fiore. Mr. Fiore served the Park District until 1995. The 1970s saw the birth of the still popular Day Camp program and construction of the Vogt Woods Recreation Building. The District joined the South Suburban Special Recreation Association in 1979.
The McCarthy Recreation and Administration buildings opened in the early 1980s. Installation of baseball field lights, the purchase of Jaycee Grove and opening of the batting cages, concessions and mini-golf course in 1987 further increased the opportunity for the entire community to enjoy many hours of fun at McCarthy Park. In 1989 the District also purchased the Tony Bettenhausen farm at 171st and 80th Avenue.
Tinley Park-Park District continued to expand its park system and program offerings throughout the 1990s. The building at 175th & Duvan was purchased and renovated into Tinley Fitness. The Vogt house was added to the Cultural Arts program with Landmark Church and Museum. John Curran was hired as Director in 1996 and continues to serve in the position today. In 1999 an $80,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant was received for construction of a bike path on the Bettenhausen farm property.
After three previous attempts to secure funding, in 2000 a bond issue was passed to build a community recreation center and water park, and a grant was obtained for the development of Community Park. On August 27, 2000, ground was broken for construction of the recreation center. Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center & Museum opened in December, 2001 and the White Water Canyon Water Park opened in 2002.
Since then, the District has seen tremendous growth and improvements throughout the park system. Some highlights include:
- Town Pointe Park, which includes 15 acres of wetlands with a boardwalk
- Construction of the state-of-the-art Freedom Park sports complex
- Renovation of the McCarthy Administration and Recreation buildings into program space and the Tinley Park Performing Arts Center
- Construction of the 30,000 square Foot Tinley Fitness addition to the Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center
- Opening of Canine Campus off leash dog park
Now, just a year away from our 50th Anniversary, Tinley Park-Park District stands at 42 park sites, over 400 full time, part time, and seasonal employees serving the Village population that has increased seven-fold since 1967, as well as many non-resident park patrons.
As we head into the next phase of development, we continue to dedicate ourselves to providing excellent programs, outstanding facilities and exceptional customer service to all our patrons. Please take a few minutes to explore this website and see all that the Tinley Park-Park District has to offer! We’re sure you’ll agree that “The Fun Starts Here”!