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posted: 6/13/2014 12:01 AM

Neighborhood profile focuses on Bending Oaks

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  • Bending Oaks in Downers Grove is full of mature trees and large lots that give the neighborhood a secluded atmosphere.

       Bending Oaks in Downers Grove is full of mature trees and large lots that give the neighborhood a secluded atmosphere.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Mature trees saturate the Maple Grove Forest Preserve near the Bending Oaks neighborhood in Downers Grove.

       Mature trees saturate the Maple Grove Forest Preserve near the Bending Oaks neighborhood in Downers Grove.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • This home on the 5400 block of Challen Place is typical of those in Bending Oaks.

       This home on the 5400 block of Challen Place is typical of those in Bending Oaks.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
By Sherry Giewald
Daily Herald Correspondent

Gary Kleczka grew up on Elmore Avenue in Downers Grove where he later purchased the lot adjacent to the house where he had lived with his parents. There he built a home for his own family.

Kleczka remembers playing football and baseball on that same lot when he was a youngster. There's a pond and a creek that runs through the wooded area nearby where he ice-skated and played hockey.

Today, 23 years later, Gary and his wife Barb enjoy living in the Bending Oaks subdivision where their two children were able to attend the same schools, from kindergarten through high school, as Gary did.

"It's still very wooded, kind of a private street," Gary Kleczka said. "We have almost two acres, and we see deer in the backyard, coyotes, skunks and raccoons.

"It's nice to walk to the train or the park, and it's a nice bike ride into town. I like the car shows on Friday nights with the old cars, and they usually have live entertainment, and all the coffee shops and breweries are open."

Bending Oaks features homes built by Ron Sievers in the late 1980s after he purchased a large tract of land from Mae and Fred Marvin and divided it into mostly one-third acre parcels.

Situated north of Maple Avenue and east of Belmont Road, Bending Oaks features single-family homes along Elmore Avenue and several adjoining cul-de-sacs. Homes are typically two-story traditional houses with brick, stucco and frame exteriors, and offer more than 2,800 square feet of living space.

Many homes have been updated with luxury kitchens and baths. Most feature vaulted, tray and coffered ceilings, zoned heating and lovely landscaping, said Elizabeth Moore, broker associate with RE/MAX Action and a 40-year resident of the area before Bending Oaks was built.

When Elizabeth and her husband John were looking for their first home, they wanted a place to raise a family and land to grow trees and shrubs. Back then, if you had an acre of land, you could have farm animals, and some of their neighbors had horses and raised chickens, Moore said.

"We had rabbits, ducks and a rooster. Having three sons, it was a wonder-filled environment for them. They tobogganed in the yard, had tree forts, and foraged the creek. As adults, they each chose to return to the area.

"The neighborhood of newer homes is well maintained with mature landscaping and nice-sized lots, a few as large as an acre. Sidewalks and streetlights have increased the number of families walking, jogging and biking in the area," she said.

The neighborhood also features townhouses, some very high end, that have been built within the last 20 years.

Area amenities include the Downers Grove Golf Course, America's first 18-hole golf course dating from 1892.

The subdivision is within walking or biking distance of the Maple Hill Swim & Tennis Club, the Belmont Prairie and the Maple Grove Forest Preserve, which offer great jogging, biking and exploring.

"American Indians once camped in Maple Grove," Moore said. "It is there that we have one of the best wildflower collections in DuPage County."

Downers Grove is rated in the Top 10 Best Cities for Kids by Livability.com, Moore said.

The town was chosen for its highly rated schools, large number of parks and green space, many festivals and community events, renovated downtown with many activities for kids and low crime rate.

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