The $800,000 project comes after years of complaints about the leaky roof on the sprawling field house at 9625 S. Longwood Drive, said Mary Jo Viero, a community organizer with the Beverly Area Planning Association.
Viero was behind the Ridge Park Advisory Council. The group's first meeting was July 18. Eleven people showed up, and lobbying for a new roof was among the top priorities.
"There are a ton of people that care about that park and use that park," Viero said this week.
The sprawling roof at Ridge Park in Beverly will be replaced this fall. The field house features a gym, auditorium, indoor swimming pool, fitness center, woodshop, art gallery and multi-purpose rooms. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]
Indeed, the Ridge Park field house was built in 1913. A large addition was built in 1929, creating the indoor swimming pool. The structure is also home to a second-floor gym, wood shop, workout room and the John H. Vanderpoel Memorial Art Gallery.
Even before successfully lobbying for the new roof, Viero's group pushed the Park District to repaint several areas inside the field house. Improvements have also been made to the pool area.
Around the holidays, the group urged park maintenance crews to install three outlets outside, allowing them to decorate the entrance of the park with festive lights, Viero said.
"We are glad that the park district sees the field house as the important aspect to our community that we know it is," said Viero, who plans to run for president of the new council later this year.
Ridge Park totals 9.32 acres, and one Park District official said a deal was planned in September 2014 to replace the roof as well as the widows, heating and cooling systems and to tuckpoint the brick building.
Unfortunately, state funding dried up, and the $1.9 million project was put on hold. This time, the park district will pay for the new roof from its own money as part of a five-year program to replace weathered roofs throughout the city, the park district official said.
Ridge Park's roof was put on the top of the list as it is among of the worst in the city. The project will go out to bid for this summer with construction slated for the fall. Plans for masonry work as well as new windows are still on the table but will have to wait, the official said.
That said, Viero is working to raise money for continued improvements at the park. She filled out her first grant application this week and hopes to host a paint night fundraiser that also incorporates the artwork on display at in the park's gallery.
"What we need is to fix and repair the building to keep it from deteriorating," she said.