MONTICELLO — The amenities that will be included in a 30 acre recreation complex on Monticello’s west side are still to be determined, but it now has a name: Oberheim Park, in honor of fallen police office Chris Oberheim.
The town’s city council unanimously approved the designation on July 12, noting that the former Champaign police officer was also a beloved, passionate softball coach.
“On behalf of the entire family, I just want to say that I cannot think of a better way to honor Chris, and the hero that he is, than by renaming the site of the future sports complex Oberheim Park,” said Amy Sharwarko, the sister of Oberheim’s widow, Amber.
“I must say that I am proud to be a member of this community,” Sharwarko said.
A large crowd that included members of the Oberheim family and area police officers erupted in applause after the resolution was approved by the council.
“I certainly appreciate you all being here this evening. It speaks a wealth about your family and how close it is,” Mayor Larry Stoner said. “We really enjoy having you in the community. We really enjoy the presence of Amber and her daughters in this community, so thank you for your sacrifice and efforts.”
The recreation area, in the works since the city purchased the land in the Appletree Subdivision in 2009, now also has $500,000 in seed money after council members also approved the transfer of funds into a newly created recreation development fund.
The action transferred $400,000 that has been kept in escrow as a possible match for state recreation grants, in addition to $100,000 from a city parks and playground fund, which includes gaming proceeds.
Mike Koon, a city alderman and chair of the special committee that is trying to get the park’s development off the ground, feels Monday’s action will help their cause.
“It’s a charge for us to make this project happen. We’ve talked about this for a decade,” Koon said. “I think this helps give us the beginning of momentum.”
The fund transfer also changes the name of the 30-Acre Multi-Use Outdoor Recreation Committee — established earlier this year by Stoner — to the Oberheim Park Development Committee.
Amber Oberheim spoke to the city council last month about helping raise funds for the park’s development, saying she felt like “there wouldn’t be any better way to honor Chris and pay back the community, and represent something that would encompass family, family fun in the moment.”
At last week’s meeting, several people also complimented the town for their support of the Oberheim family and law enforcement in general, including Monticello police officer Jason Shumard.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t hear someone talk about how Amber has said something, or done something to further the cause that began on a terrible morning not long ago,” Shumard said.
“I feel at ease knowing I might have to answer a call someday like the one that took (Chris). I’m at ease because I am part of community that will stay behind my family if something happens.”
Council members commented they have also been impressed by the community’s response.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this council and a part of this community. Not only because of the support shown to the Oberheims. We are very fortunate to be in Monticello,” Council member Mary Vogt said.