Maple Park will get a $1 million dollar makeover in 2016, due in part to a $400,000 matching state grant awarded to the Park District of Oak Park.
The grant comes courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Program. It will facilitate phase two of the park renovation, Jan Arnold, executive director of the park district, said in a telephone interview.
Arnold said the renovations will include relocating a playground closer to the east side of the park; building a picnic pavilion; renovation of the two ball fields to add backstops and player and spectator stands; and creation of youth soccer and lacrosse fields.
Climbing boulders will be placed between the two ball fields and pickleball – a game that draws from table tennis, badminton and tennis – lines will be added to the tennis courts, Arnold said.
The grant will also be used to connect a running path from the north to south end of the park, make landscaping improvements and install benches, bike racks and water fountains.
Along with the $400,000 grant, the park district will pitch in $620,000 from the capital improvement budget to complete the project.
"At the Park District of Oak Park, one of the things we pride ourselves on is we're constantly looking for opportunities to stretch the tax dollar," Arnold said, noting that it is the park district's seventh OSLAD grant.
The grant was made possible because of the "Renew Our Parks" referendum approved by Oak Parkers in 2005, which established a fund that could be used to make the district eligible for such matching grants, Arnold said. The park district has received $2.8 million in OSLAD grants since the passage of the referendum, which it has used for improvements to Austin Gardens and Field, Longfellow, Taylor, Mills and Lindberg parks.
She said the master plan for Maple Park was completed in 2007, and the first phase of the project was completed in spring 2011. That leg of the renovation included connecting pathways, relocating tennis courts, building a dog park and adding trees and walkway lights.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) said in a news release that the grant and subsequent park improvement would "make our neighborhoods more attractive to prospective residents" and "put people back to work by bringing jobs to our area."
"I support this effort by the governor and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to improve our parks in the west suburbs," Ford said. "It has never been more important for local families to have a safe place to enjoy the outdoors and to say active. These parks provide organized sports for our children and affordable activities for everyone to enjoy."