By Brad Spencer
The old adage: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again," rings true for the Park District of Oak Park's second attempt to obtain a grant from the state for additional improvements to Maple Park, a 7-acre site that borders Harlem Avenue in the far southwest corner of the village.
In preparation for an Illinois Department of Natural Resources OSLAD (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) Grant, the park district will revisit the 2007 master plan for the space, and they are reaching out to the community for input on additional improvements, such as a picnic shelter for the site.
Six years ago the park district did not receive an OSLAD grant for Maple Park but has since received such funding for Field, Longfellow, Mills, Taylor, and Lindberg parks and is awaiting notification on a grant for Austin Gardens. At the time, the park district moved ahead with Phase I of its improvements to Maple, which included relocating the tennis courts, installing pathways, a dog park and additional trees and landscaping.
"The park district is looking to get into Phase II of improving Maple Park by applying for this grant in July," said Diane Stanke, manager of communications for the park district. "In preparation for that, we're revisiting the previous master plan and calling for the community's input on improvements."
Stanke said residents are invited to a meeting on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at Carroll Center, 1125 S. Kenilworth Ave. She added that the next phase will likely include more pathways, baseball backstops that were not replaced in the first phase, the addition of a few boulders, moving the playground, and adding a picnic shelter among other items.
"These are all things we are going to talk about at the meeting," she emphasized. "We want to go for another grant and see what happens."
Because the dates of notification from the state on an approved grant vary, Stanke couldn't pinpoint when a decision would be made on the application. But construction for Phase II, she said, pending grant approval, wouldn't begin until 2016.