2018 Year in Review

Hammond Sportsplex Opens

2018 brought about the opening of the Hammond Sportsplex and Community Center. This $18 million facility opened to much fanfare on September 27th with a formal ribbon cutting. The week following had open houses for various people involved with the facility including construction, sponsors, City officials and employees besides the greater community of Hammond.

Four new full-time City employees were hired to run the facility along with 54 part-time employees. The facility includes two indoor soccer fields, six basketball/twelve volleyball courts, 1/3 mile walking path, a community room, a multi-purpose room, concessions, and offices. Very quickly after opening a number of leagues and tournaments were formed to meet the goal of being an economic driver for that area of the City by being a destination for recreation.

Civic Center Continues Updating

As part of the energy efficiency improvements that the City of Hammond is undertaking, the opportunity existed to help take on a very large project— the exterior tuck pointing of the Civic Center. The most pressing and dangerous issues have been dealt with to make the structure safe. This included loose bricks and decorative stone on the building, the columns which had cracks running the height of the building, rusted out lintels have been replaced and other issues which were leading to the degrading of the 82-year-old building. This is the most recent updating to the Civic Center under Mayor McDermott’s efforts to update the facility for continued use.

Hammond Sports Hall of Fame Improvement

In March of 2018, the Hammond Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony took place at the Hammond Civic Center. Since 1987, when it was first started under the direction of then-Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Sr., the Sports Hall of Fame has inducted new members each year.

In 2018, the Hall of Fame plaques were updated and improved to museum level quality. The new display is available for viewing at the Hammond Civic Center’s main level in the east, south and west hallways. Each induction year panel includes pictures and brief biographies about each member and their athletic achievements at the time they were inducted. Since the panels were being updated, we seized the opportunity to include high- lights of some of the historic heritage that Hammond has as they relate to the sporting community such as the original charter for the Hammond Pros as part of the National Football League.

2018 Festival of the Lakes

Festival of the Lakes is an annual five-day event held during the third full week in July at Wolf Lake Memorial Park, 2324 Calumet Avenue. In 2018, the event was held July 18th - 22nd. During these five days, Hammond offers something that appeals to everyone in our diverse community. The main attractions are nationally-known main stage concerts. Hammond provides many other events for the public to enjoy, along with a carnival, food vendors and a beer garden every night of the event. This event showcases Hammond’s three lakes, Wolf Lake, George Lake, and Lake Michigan. Typical attendance at this event can reach over 100,000 over the five days of summer fun.

Here are the events from Hammond’s 2018 Festival of the Lakes:

  • Senior Citizen Day: Hammond provides a band and a free lunch to attendees over 60 years of age. They can receive health information, get their blood pressure checked, and socialize with friends and more.
  • Special Persons Day: Hammond provides free rides and a free lunch to individuals with special needs.
  • Kids Day at the Splash Pad: All children can use the splash pad for free all day on the designated day during Festival of the Lakes.
  • Golf Scramble: Festival sponsors take part in a golf competition at Hammond’s Lost Marsh Golf Course, where lunch and prizes are provided.
  • Fishing Derby: children under 12 receive a fishing rod/reel and a class on how to fish for beginners. There is also a fishing competition with awards given to the largest fish caught in each category.
  • Kathleen Pucalik 5K Walk/Run: in memory of Hammond Councilwoman Kathleen Pucalik, who participated in the race annually, the 5K Walk/Run is open to all ages with prizes awarded by age group.
  • Polka Party at the Marina: This is a very popular event held at the Hammond Marina featuring a Polka band with lots of dancing along with door prizes, Polish food and drink.
  • The Festival Hot Rod & Custom Show is a custom car and motorcycle show that includes prizes to category winners.
  • Free Pontoon Boat Rides around Wolf Lake are provided courtesy of the Hammond Marina.
  • Free Concerts: Each night, the Pavilion stage hosts nationally-known music talent that is free to the public.
  • Free Fireworks Display: Hammond provides a quality fireworks display on Friday and Saturday nights after the concerts. an opportunity to showcase their talents.

Pulaski Park Senior Center Celebrates 1st Year

On December 6, 2018, the Pulaski Park Senior Center celebrated a one year anni- versary. After opening under the leadership of Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. and 1st District Councilman Mark Kalwinski in 2017, a core group of volunteers has taken on the task of keeping the facility open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-3pm. This free facility is open to all seniors ages 50+. The facility offers chair exercise classes, bunco/ pinochle games, stitching gatherings, puzzle making, arts and crafts time, new friend- ships, community building and so much more. The facility is still new so all are welcome to come and get involved and determine the next round of activities.

Edison Park Renovation Opens

Edison Park was the first former pool site reconstruction project that was funded from the 2018 park bond issue. This site with co- operation from Mayor McDermott, 4th District Councilman Bill Emer- son and the Park Board re-developed the entire 41⁄2 acre park site. This $2 million project replaced the former pool which was only open about 6 weeks each summer. The site now has a new 1⁄3 mile walking path perimeter sidewalk, a new playground, agility course play structures, an open air shelter, two soccer fields with artificial turf and walls, a ‘skate spot’ skate area, two sets of concrete corn hole, three porch swings, irri- gation and landscaping including 64 new trees

Hessville Park

More than $3million in improvements to Hessville Park began in 2018. Thanks to Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr., 6th District Councilman Scott Rakos, 5th District Councilman Dave Woerpel and a park bond issue this major project is coming together at 173rd St. & Kennedy Avenue where
the 5th and 6th Districts meet.

This project will include a paved walking path, improved accessibility, a new concrete style skate park, a new open-air shelter, ‘poured in place’ playground safety surfacing for the playground that was recently installed, improved drainage for the ball field, a free interactive water feature, a new washroom and mechanical building for the water feature, additional parking, shade sails and landscaping. The project is scheduled to be substantially completed by May 2019.

Pulaski Park Plans

Plans were formulated in 2018 for a new pool at Pulaski Park. The con-ceptual plan, as seen in these renderings, would include a zero depth accessible entrance, two pool slides, 3 lap lanes, volleyball area, basketball area, vertical jets and a youth/toddler play piece. This plan would replace the 64 year old pump house and would update and re-use the newer bathhouse. The Park Board has 2/3 of the estimated cost for this project from a bond issue and is working to come up with the other portion.

Improving Dowling Park

A number of improvements were made at Dowling Park in 2018. Following an extensive athletic complex improvement at this park only a few years earlier, these improvements were done to provide other alternative forms of recreation in this park. With cooperation from Mayor McDermott and 5th District Councilman Dave Woerpel, a new playground was installed which includes a zip line and poured in place surfacing. A grant using Solid Waste District funds to purchase recycled material helped fund this new playground. Around the same time our public works department was busy making some other improvements. Constructing and installing two new accessible fishing piers and Hammond’s fourth free off-leash dog park.

The pond at Dowling Park also was improved by adding an aeration device and was also stocked with various type of fish to encourage fishing as a recreational activity.

Thanks to a grant from the Little Calumet River Basin Commission, 136 new trees were planted in the park. Further, improvements were made to and around the shelter at the north end of the park including new doors on the structure, painting the facility, new concrete around the shelter with new exterior lighting and a new asphalt connecting pathway to the entrance at 174th Court & Carolina Avenue.

Many Trees Need to be Removed

The City of Hammond has taken notice of a large number of ash trees throughout the City that have been infected with the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). That little bug is making a big impact on our city and beyond. The picture shows the type of boring that the bug does leaving tree removal as the only solution for a safe situation.

In 2018, the City hired a Parks Director - Forestry Operations to manage the City’s urban forest. As of August 2018, there are nearly 1,000 trees in City parks and on City parkways that need to be removed. Staff is evaluating the trees and is seeking to remove the most dangerous trees first based upon available funding to do the work. Substantial additional funding toward this goal was given by District Councilman in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Districts in 2018.

1,100+ Trees Planted to Benefit Hammond

The Hammond Parks and Recreation department continually looks to improve the com- munity by planting new trees. Trees have numerous benefits for the community including environmental, economic, public health and social benefits. At a time when a number of trees have to be removed due to EAB it is especially important that current staff are stewards of trees and that we look at replacing those that get removed. While they may not be replaced in the same location, the City has the opportunity to add trees to our parks, parkways, and greenways to share benefits of trees for years to come. In 2018, trees were planted via a partnership with the Student Conservation Association and a grant they received, through a grant from the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commis- sion, from a Communitree grant and also from NIPSCO’s replenishment program and MANY volunteers. Over 1,100 trees were planted city wide including Baring and Knickerbocker Parkways, Erie Lackawanna Greenway, Amoco, Columbia, Dowling, Edi- son and Wolf Lake parks. This equates out to planting three trees a day for the entire year!

Columbia Park Ribbon Cutting

In July of 2018, Mayor McDermott, 2nd District Councilman Pete Torres and the Hammond Parks and Recreation dept. celebrated the completion of park improvements to Columbia Park. These improvements were highlighted by a new paved walking path, Hammond’s first ever exterior fitness equip- ment circuit, additional playground equipment, an updated shelter building, expanded sand volleyball courts, improved accessibility, updated basketball court and a newly graded athletic field large enough for a full size soccer field.