JOLIET – Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park has a manager again, another sign of renewed activity and resources at the park.
Lori Carmine started on the job last week, nearly a year after the last park manager left. The position was left vacant as the city reviewed management and even ownership options for the park.
Carmine has been a drama instructor at the park’s indoor theater and has a long association with Bicentennial Park.
“I took my first acting class here when the park opened in 1976,” she said. “Just because of my activities and history of with this park, it has been pretty much of a dream job for a long time.”
The city, which owns Bicentennial Park, hired Carmine for the $80,000-a-year job.
She is the second new staff member in recent months as the park has revived events put on in the past, including the Independence Day fireworks show taking place Sunday.
The Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park Inc. Board, which raises money for the park, in May hired Debbie Greene as development director to raise funds and pursue grants.
On July 23, the park will host River Fest, a throwback to the Waterway Daze festival that ended amid city budget cutbacks during the recession. A new Art for Every 1 exhibit is scheduled for Aug. 20. And the park board is considering the possibility of a fall festival reminiscent of the Pumpkinfest that also ended in the recession.
“This is a big year. I said I’d hit the ground running,” Carmine said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Last year, Joliet Township Supervisor Dan Vera asked the city to consider giving ownership of the park to the township, which, he said, would revive activity at the park. The idea faced some citizen opposition, and Vera eventually decided against making a formal proposal.