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By Ben Meyerson
Lindberg Park could soon have the best-quality playing fields in Oak Park — but they wouldn't be artificial, and they wouldn't have lights.
After an outcry from many of the park's neighbors over the idea of having an artificial turf field in the middle of the Park District of Oak Park's biggest park, it's been shot down by the folks in charge of sculpting a new plan for Lindberg, Wolff Landscape Architecture.
But Wolff is still proposing to tear up the worn-out, weedy, uneven fields at Lindberg, Greenfield at Marion St. Instead of artificial turf, they're proposing a new state-of-the-art field made of natural grass.
"We think [a new, natural field] is the thing which best serves Lindberg Park, best serves the sports teams and users, and best preserves the aesthetics of Lindberg Park," said Ted Wolff, head of the consulting firm. "It provides improved playability, it provides improved reliability, and it closely maintains the current park character."
Wolff's plan for the heavily-used fields would involve replacing the hard current sod with a fast-draining sandy soil combined with a below-surface drainage system that would allow athletes to get back on the field much faster after a heavy rain.
However, it would cost the park district twice as much to maintain as Lindberg's current fields do — roughly $100,000 a year, up from the current $50,000.
Wolff also nixed the idea of adding sports lighting to the park's fields. The increased use, they said, would add traffic to the neighborhood and increase wear and tear on the fields.
Also proposed are new paths that would complete a loop around the park, as well as a shelter for day camps and further spread-out tennis courts.
The park district has a fourth community meeting planned for Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., when Wolff will present its master plan for the park.