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posted: 9/26/2012 5:00 AM

Editorial: Wheeling park is symbol of pride, partnership

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  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comDavid Kolssak built a small park with the help of the Village of Wheeling which he dedicated to the father, Louis Kolssak II along Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling.

      Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comDavid Kolssak built a small park with the help of the Village of Wheeling which he dedicated to the father, Louis Kolssak II along Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling.

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

The three white pillars jutting upward amid a colorful spray of coleus, roses and marigolds just south of Dundee Road do not add a noticeable peak to the suburban skyline. As open spaces go, the small Wheeling parkway for which they are a centerpiece may barely catch the eyes of busy drivers speeding by along Milwaukee Avenue. But the trio of monoliths has important stories to tell.

For one, it is the simple story of a son's pride in his father. Wheeling businessman David Kolssak, the prime mover behind the park, built and dedicated it for his father, Louis.

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For another, it is the story of the elder Kolssak's determination -- and a community's appreciation for it -- in working with the state to manage the land taken by the Illinois Department of Transportation when it widened Milwaukee Avenue near the famed Restaurant Row 15 years ago.

For still another, it is the story of how vision and persistence can turn an otherwise plain and unusable plot of land into a site for relaxation and reflection in the midst of a bustling commercial area.

And for yet one more -- and one of the most important of all -- it is the story of how citizens and their government can accomplish something nice when they have a clear goal and a willingness to work together.

The construction of Illumination Park was not the kind of public-private partnership we might think of when, say, a private enterprise manages a public road or a town creates an enterprise zone to beef up local revenue. It was a cooperative venture in which a local citizen and businessman -- in this case David Kolssak -- developed a vision for an empty plot of land and joined with his community leadership to bring it to pass.

Kolssak provided about three quarters of the cost of a parking lot expansion project at his TURNkey Information Technology that included Illumination Park. The rest, about $69,000, was contributed by the village of Wheeling through tax increment finance funds. The small park -- which will be adorned with seasonal lighting throughout the year -- provides a scenic bright spot along a vigorous commercial corridor as well as a place where pedestrians can stop and spend a quiet moment. Wheeling Village President Judy Abruscato called the park a "great example of private-public cooperation," and father and son Kolssak acknowledged how the addition adds "a different dimension" to a modern, evolving suburban streetscape.

To keep things in context, Illumination Park is probably not the most grandiose or spectacular example of public-private partnerships. Nor is it the culmination of a vast and difficult community effort. Rather, it represents something more quaint and, in its way, important.

It is simply a display of how openness on the part of government and assertiveness on the part of a private individual can, without rancor or controversy, build something nice for a community that likely would never have been accomplished by either party alone.

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