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UPDATE: The school district and park district have both issued statements electing to re-build the Jefferson pre-school in the current location. This move preserves Graf Park. Thank you for your support! If you wish to receive updates in the event anything changes, please subscribe to the mailing list.
Besides being a very popular place to walk, run and play for local residents, Graf Park regularly hosts a wide range of events including the popular annual fireworks, the annual fly a kite day and a wide range of park district sports programs such as Rams football, soccer, lacrosse and softball. It is one of the few remaining large open green spaces in an otherwise increasingly developed Wheaton.
Graf park was donated, in part, to the Wheaton Park District in 1972 by William Graf and also paid for with taxpayer dollars. Mr Graf donated the portion of land to the Wheaton Park District with the intention it would be used as a park to benefit the local community.
School District 200 is pushing a plan to acquire and demolish a large portion of Graf park and move the Jefferson preschool to the land currently occupied by Graf Park. The plan proposes demolishing 4.5 acres of the park, including the recently re-paved walking paths and the large green area extending from Manchester road to the rear football fields. In addition to building a 45,000 square foot building, a large parking lot and driveway for cars and buses would be constructed on the East side of the property directly adjacent to residential houses. Local residents are not only deeply saddened about what the loss of a significant portion of a beautiful Wheaton park will do to the Wheaton community, but also deeply concerned and upset about the prospect of the installation of driveways and a large parking lot immediately adjacent to existing residences in a previously quiet family friendly neighborhood. Mr. Graf’s old house would be surrounded by driveways and a parking lot if the plan moves forward.
Like Graf Park, Jefferson preschool also serves an important role in our Wheaton community. While this school is essential to maintain quality education in Wheaton, the school district has several alternatives available to improve the school other than destroying Graf Park; these include options to re-hab or to rebuild the neglected existing building at the existing location. Some of the other available options, including rebuilding in the existing location, are lower cost than the proposed Graf Park demolition. There is no significant advantage to moving the school to Graf Park, but there are many negative effects on the community.