By Ben Meyerson
Two weeks after proposing a top-of-the-line new field for Lindberg Park, the Park District of Oak Park's planner has nixed the idea as too expensive and difficult to maintain.
It's the latest wrinkle in the debate over just how to deal with the heavily-used fields at Oak Park's biggest park. The park district's contractor, Wolff Landscape Architecture, proposed the state-of-the-art natural fields at a community meeting on Nov. 3, but on Wednesday night, reversed course.
The sand-based fields that were proposed would have drained faster, giving a high-performance feel to the park without tearing out the natural sod for artificial turf.
Two weeks later, though, Wolff decided that the field design they were looking at were simply too pricey and complicated to take care of. Instead, they're looking to keep the field similar to what it is now, but re-level it and pay more attention to it.
"We did some more delving into the pros and cons, and we found some owners who were very unhappy with these systems over time," said Wolff's principal, Ted Wolff. "It's high maintenance not just in terms of cost, but in terms of skill."
They're still proposing to even out the lumpy, uneven field. But they're also proposing to update the irrigation system to only water when the field needs it, to aerate the soil more often and determine if there should be anything added to the soil's mix to ensure it stays in top shape.
To help figure out the best way to keep the field in peak condition, Wolff is proposing to have a trio of contractors take a detailed look at the field to determine how best to take care of it.
"We had recommended something a little more generic, now we're saying let's work with the turf field that's there," Wolff said. "We're saying get a very detailed survey."
The park district's board will take a detailed look at the plan at its working meeting on Dec. 2, and is expected to vote on Wolff's plan at its Dec. 16 meeting.