The land is owned by ComEd and leased by the Village of Crestwood, but for over 20 years, only the Crestwood Soccer Club has used the park at 139th Street and Lavergne Avenue.
"We've used the fields, had good rights, exclusive rights to use those. We maintain the fields. We treat them like they are our own," said Rob McKay, Crestwood Soccer Team.
But that's about to change as the village is now poised to amend its 36-year-old parks ordinance to specify that Crestwood's public parks are intended for everyone's use and not just the sports clubs.
"If children want to play in the parks, as long as they don't have a game to play, they have a right. It's something that needed to be straightened out," said Mayor Louis Presta, Village of Crestwood.
The mayor says the push to amend the parks ordinance was prompted by an incident at the park not long ago.
"Children were playing out there and they were chased out and we had to get the police involved. We told the children to get back in there and they were able to play," said Mayor Presta.
More than 500 kids play on the club's 40-plus teams. And though it's true the Crestwood Soccer Team has had exclusive use of the park for more than 20 years, theirs was a verbal agreement with the previous mayor, not a written one. Unable to reach a compromise with the village, parents and players spent hours today making signs for a protest they plan to hold tomorrow at village hall.
"It belongs to these kids. Nobody else. Everything we do here is for the kids. We don't get anything out of it except for the fun to watch them play," said Peggy Ward, volunteer board member.
"They're going to tear up the nets, ruin the fields and it's not going to be as fun to play on," said Ainsley McKay, 10.
A protest is planned Tuesday from 3pm to 5pm at Crestwood Village Hall. The trustees are expected to vote on and approve the updated ordinance Thursday evening.