The River Forest Park District budgeted almost $7,100 less for capital projects for Fiscal Year 2018-19 than it did for this fiscal year – and it will still have plenty of money left over if it wants to do some of the projects that it hasn’t yet committed any funds to.

The park district’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the budget – but not before making a few tweaks. 

The capital budget includes $590,000 for remaining interior renovations and $30,000 for painting at the River Forest Depot. For Keystone Park, the original version of the budget – which has been changed — included $12,000 to upgrade the intersection of Keystone and Central avenues, and $5,000 to do ecological restoration along the Union Pacific West Metra Line embankment. A total of $25,000 has been earmarked for a picnic/ice rink shelter at Constitution Park.

The budget also includes a number “unfunded” projects, which won’t be addressed until sources of funding can be found for them. Unfunded projects include $4.9 million to add program space at the Depot, $600,000 for purchasing property and $1.5 million for a synthetic field turf.

Most notably added to the list of unfunded projects was a $75,000 line item for a dog park. Just where a dog park would be located or its design aren’t settled matters. Commissioners included a dog park in the list of unfunded projects in 2018-19 after a community survey last year indicated interest by the public.

However, the district can apply for grants to help fund such projects. Park district Executive Director Mike Sletten noted that, thanks to the state of Illinois passing a budget, park districts can apply for Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants to help fund large parks projects.

During the park board’s June 11 meeting where the capital budget was discussed, River Forest resident Michael Grant urged the park district to do something about the condition of Keystone Park’s athletic fields, especially the condition of the turf and its penchant to flood. 

The commissioners agreed to change the wording of the Keystone Park-related budget items to in response to those concerns. Money earmarked for the park will go toward “upgrades to Keystone” to allow more flexibility.

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