By Ben Meyerson
The Park District of Oak Park's planned overhaul of Lindberg Park could cost $1.1 million, according to a presentation to the park board Thursday night.
The estimate comes at the end of a months-long planning process that included focus groups and raucous public meetings, highlighted by a disagreement over the park's athletic fields.
After debating the merits of artificial turf, sports lighting and a high-performance, high-cost natural turf field, the park district's consultant who led process, Wolff Landscape Architecture, decided to stick with soil similar to what's at Lindberg now.
New features of the park will include revamped tennis courts, a half-mile walking loop and possibly a new shelter for day camps.
Wolff presented the cost estimate to the board in their first full discussion of the park's remodeling.
The plan for the park involves hiring several specialists to examine the lumpy athletic fields to figure out just what is the best way to care for them and maintain them.
Mark Gartland, park board president, said he wants to take that step before diving into the park's renovation headfirst.
"While it is bumpy, it is one of our more successfully grass-growing parks," Gartland said. "Before we go out to bid — and I realize this is several years in the future — I'd rather have the consultant come in and tell us what we need to be doing."
Board member Lise Valentine said she also had concerns about the cost to maintain the fields Wolff was proposing.
"This strikes me as a plan that increases maintenance costs," Valentine said. "As we get closer, I'd like to see more estimates on those costs, even though this is a capital plan."
Overall though, the board seemed pleased with the plan. With a few small suggestions — making sure there's adequate lighting on the new walking paths, adding fencing around the new tennis courts to keep balls from going into the street — the board moved to put the plan up for a vote at its full meeting on Dec. 16.
That meeting is open to the public, and residents will have the opportunity to comment at the beginning of the meeting.
If approved, the park district will likely work on pieces of the plan in 2013. The parks' capital plan currently has $450,000 set aside for Lindberg's construction in that year.
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