Lindberg Park could be the home to the Park District of Oak Park’s first artificial turf athletic field, if suggestions from the park’s neighbors and users hold up.

That was just one of the suggestions tossed out at Wednesday night’s master plan meeting, a communal brainstorming session hosted by the park district to figure out just what should be done with Lindberg.

Lindberg, which covers almost 14 acres on Greenfield Street between Marion and Woodbine, is the park district’s single biggest park. It has several distinct areas, and is dominated by its large athletic fields, which host baseball and several sizes of soccer fields. It also has several tennis courts, as well as an offset walking loop with a native prairie garden.

The park district has methodically moved through each of its parks over the past few years, drawing up master plans for each of its facilities to guide them into the future. Lindberg is the second to last park to be planned; Stevenson at Lake Street and Humphrey, will be the last.

There was little argument amongst the meeting’s 15 or so attendees as they shared what they’d like to see in Lindberg. Many said they’d like to see a walking path that went all the way around the park, and the park district’s landscape architect for the park, Ted Wolff, suggested an outdoor shelter.

But the main focus was on the athletic fields.

Several neighbors and coaches said they wouldn’t mind an artificial field, or even lights.

“If we’re going to redo the soccer fields, let’s do it the best we possibly can,” said Oak Parker Rob Hauck. “I’d like to see it as playable as possible and as available as possible.”

Dan Jordan, the head of Oak Park AYSO, said making the fields more durable and available is in everybody’s interest.

“It’s not just about Lindberg Park, it’s about the big picture,” Jordan said. “It’s about trying to get our obese kids off the Wii and outside.”

Paul Aeschleman, head of Oak Park’s transportation commission, said he’d like to see lights at the park, as well.

“Lights allow us hours and hours of extra practice time,” Aeschleman said.

Though many of the people at the meeting were athletes or coaches, there was little opposition from the park’s neighbors to the idea of turf, or lights.

With a park as big as Lindberg, the thought seemed to be that there was room for a state-of-the-art set of fields, as well as a bucolic set of walking paths and prairie gardens.

After the meeting, Mike Grandy, the park district’s head of building and grounds, said that while turf would definitely make the field more available, it wouldn’t be perfect.

“I’m aware that when you have an artificial turf field, it is not necessarily the holy grail,” he said. “It’s not a maintenance-free item; It does need to have some work done to maintain it.”

Oak Parkers will get another chance to have their say, though: The park district has a survey online where residents can provide input if they missed Wednesday night’s meeting.

The next meeting will be on Oct. 13 at Mann School, where Wolff Landscape Architecture will present several mock-ups of what the park could look like.

The final result will be a master plan that will guide the park district as it renovates each of its parks over the next several years.

The park district currently has $450,000 budgeted for improvements to Lindberg in 2013.

Link to the survey

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