History of NLCPD

History of NLCPD

The New Lenox Community Park District, incorporated in 1969, is located in Will County and is 40 miles south of Chicago and serves a population of 68,000 residents living within the Village of New Lenox and New Lenox Township; which encompasses an area of approximately 35.8 square miles. Our District provides a wide range of recreational activities, a championship-quality golf course ~ The Sanctuary, banquet facilities, district-wide special events which number over 50 annually, as well as managing 37 park sites on approximately 353 square acres.

The New Lenox Community Park District is able to provide over 300 programs each season to the residents they serve, while employing only 34 full-time staff members and approximately 240 part-time employees. To provide quality programming at affordable pricing, the Park District’s financial reporting is one that other park district’s model. For the past five years, the Park District has been awarded the prestigious Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association.

The Park District’s mission statement “To provide safe recreational opportunities through diverse programs, facilities, and open space, with the overall goal being improvement of the quality of life in our community,” is maintained and achieved by the positive and productive relationships garnered with both New Lenox School District #122 as well as Lincoln-Way High School District #210. This structure involving the sharing of facility space and athletic fields amongst schools, park districts, as well as athletic associations, is not one that is usually employed by other park districts. The New Lenox Community Park District is grateful for these positive relationships, for without them the number of quality programs and athletics offered to their patrons would be greatly diminished.

Some programming highlights include:

  • Kiddie Kampus ~ This program began in September of 1980 and has grown to twelve different classes with over 190 students each year. The teachers work directly with the New Lenox School District #122 to ensure that each Kiddie Kampus graduate is ready for their first year in Kindergarten.
  • ACES Before and After School Care ~ The Park District began the ACES Before and After School program at Spencer Campus in 2007 and now is the sole provider of before and after school care at all New Lenox District #122 campuses. This program now serves over 700 students. To further address community needs, beginning in 2013, the Park District provided the Spencer Trailblazers program in conjunction with the Spencer Trail Kindergarten campus. This opportunity gave working parents the opportunity to have their kindergartener in full day-day care.
  • Camp Programs ~ During the summer months, the Park District offers a wide array of camps to meet the community’s interests including sport, computer, educational and day camps which can accommodate all children from ages 3-12.
  • Athletic Leagues ~ The Park District offers numerous athletic leagues which include adult volleyball, softball or flag football, as well as youth T-ball, soccer, basketball and flag football. Currently, there are over 2,000 participants in our youth leagues as well as over 150 teams in our adult leagues.
  • Special Events ~ The Recreation Department keeps busy with the many special events and bus trips that occur throughout the year. For over 10 years, the Park District has hosted an annual Kid’s Fishing Derby. This event supports the catch and release program. Other popular special events are the Easter Egg Hunt, Touch-a-Truck, the Flashlight Clover Hunt and Hoppy Hour. One community event that has been a mainstay for over 25 years is the Park District’s Proud American Days festival. This annual event attracts over 30,000 people throughout the four-day festival and includes a carnival, live entertainment and a host of events and activities for families throughout the Lincoln Way area.

The Sanctuary Golf Course

The Sanctuary provides a challenge for all skill levels. The “links style” feel of the course features bent grass greens, tees and fairways with light to heavy fescue rough areas. Along with 18 superbly conditioned holes of golf, The Sanctuary has an excellent grass practice range, short game area, putting green and full service golf shop. The quality of The Sanctuary can be measured by the fact that for the past six years, the course has achieved 30,000 18-hole rounds of golf. The Park District attributes this annual success to The Sanctuary’s ability to provide outstanding customer service for patrons looking for a championship level course at an affordable price as well as the success and size of their Junior Golf League.

Park Development Made Possible Through Grant Awards

The New Lenox Community Park District continues to be faced with the task of seeking other resources to continue park and facility improvements and upgrades. This plan of action is necessary due to a decline in real estate development and in turn developer donations, and focuses on a greater need for the identification, submission and application of various grant funding opportunities. Sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Park District has received over 2.4 million dollars through OSLAD grants to develop/improve numerous park sites. The success of grant awards allows for park improvements as well as facility upgrades. Additional grants were also successfully applied for and resulted in updates at Park District facilities including energy-efficient lighting for Park District buildings as well as a safety grant that allowed for the purchase of life saving Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) at all Park District facilities and outdoor bleacher inspections. Finally, the Park District was awarded a Streambank Stabilization grant thru Will/South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District.


Here is a brief outline highlighting some of the major milestones that the New Lenox Community Park District has achieved:

5/9/1969 ~ New Lenox Community Park District becomes an Organization and Incorporated

5/1969 ~ First Board President was Harlow Jensen

5/8/1973 ~ Official Park District beaver mascot appears for the first time.

3/1977 ~ 1st Park District Program Catalog created

11/4/1979 ~ Official opening dedication of Lions Community Center

5/1980 ~ Park District receives 1st OSLAD “Open Space Land Acquisition and Development” grant for $46,500 to develop Stonebridge and Windermere West Parks

9/1980 ~ Preschool program begins at the New Lenox Community Park District

11/1983 ~ 1st Annual Penguin Open held at Willow Run Golf Course

7/1984 ~ New Lenox Chamber of Commerce hosts 1st Proud American Days

10/9/1984 ~ New Lenox Park District logo developed

9/1996 ~ The Sanctuary Golf Course Opens

5/1998 ~ Park District receives OSLAD grant for $193,257 to develop Schoolhouse Manor Park

5/2000 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $100,000 to develop Sharon’s Bay Park

5/2003 ~ Awarded 4th OSLAD grant for $142,500 to develop Palmer Valley Park

5/2004 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $175,000 to develop Freedom Park

7/2004 ~ Park District becomes the sole host of Proud American Days

5/2005 ~ Awarded largest OSLAD grant thus far for $400,000 to develop Wildflower Park

5/2006 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $300,975 to develop Crystal Springs Park

5/2007 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $331,600 to develop Hibernia Park featuring the first splash pad in the park system

8/2007 ~The Park District begins ACES program to provide Before and After School Care for District #122 families.

6/2008 ~ Park system includes eight completed parks, 14 sites in various stages of development, and three undeveloped sites.

4/2008 ~ Park District receives the first of ten consecutive annual Certification of Achievement Awards for Excellence in Financial Reporting presented by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

6/2009 ~ 40th Anniversary Celebration and Grand Opening of Hibernia Park which features boat rentals, concessions, sand volleyball, fishing, and splash pad activities.

5/2011 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $372,000 to develop Countryview/Royal Meadows park featuring skate park and tennis courts.

10/2011 ~ Park district sponsored PARC Grant on behalf of Lincoln Way Special Recreation Association and was awarded $2.5 million to assist in building a facility.

5/2013 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $287,500 to develop Walker Park. It will feature a splash pad and bioswale/rain garden.

2/2016 ~ Acquired the former New Lenox Police Department building and renamed it the Administration Building.

8/2018 ~ Celebrates Grand Opening of Prairie Ridge Park, currently has 37 park sites.

6/2019 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $400,000 to develop Leigh Creek South Park in Heather Glen Subdivision.

1/2020 ~ Awarded OSLAD grant for $400,000 to develop Sky Harbor Park in Sky Harbor Subdivision.

7/2020 ~ Awarded National Fitness Campaign Grant for $25,000 to develop an outdoor Fitness Court located on Haven Ave. and Gear Dr.