Although a few steps remain before any changes to Barrie Park will be considered for acceptance of a final plan by the Board of Commissioners of the Park District of Oak Park, significant planning progress has been made regarding the renovation.

Based on feedback from residents via three public meetings and two online questionnaires, the park district has determined numerous objectives to improve the park.

According to Diane Stanke, the park district’s director of marketing and customer service, approximately 70 people attended the community meetings while 120 responses were submitted for the two questionnaires.

The park district also hosted four focus groups with several local governmental agencies, sports affiliate organizations and other community groups.

At Barrie Park, the tot lot will remain and be expanded, park entrances at all four corners will be improved and swales will be added so sidewalks don’t collect standing water. 

The playground will feature a mix of rustic/natural and contemporary pieces, a picnic area will be located on the west side of the park and the baseball backstop will be relocated to the northeast corner of the park.

If allowed by the village of Oak Park, a speed table (a midblock traffic-calming device) will be added on Lombard Avenue. 

In the sport court area, a variety of activities will be located, including batting cages. Having a roof over part of the sports court is a possibility, if it can be engineered.

On the sled hill, an exercise area will be included. Additionally, a secondary sled hill for younger children can be created, if desired.

“One of the comments that resonated with us came at the last community meeting, when an attendee stated that it should be a plan for everyone. The park district couldn’t agree more,” Stanke said. “We hope to have a plan that blends the needs of our organized sports participants with those who enjoy walking around the park’s perimeter, sledding, exercising on the hill, having picnics, playing pickup games of soccer and football as well as other activities.”

A fourth community meeting will be held at Barrie Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13. An online questionnaire is available at from Tuesday, April 28 through Tuesday, May 5.

“This has been a community-driven process, like the many others before,” Stanke said. “We look forward to a finalized site plan that reflects the needs of our community.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...

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