Action by the River Forest Village Board, Aug. 22, brought River Forest Park District officials a step closer to the district’s Keystone Park East Project.

Key elements of the project are replacing and reconfiguring five tennis courts and replacing and relocating four batting cages at Keystone Park East, 7920 Central Ave. The project’s estimated cost is approximately $1 million, which park district officials said would be covered by the agency’s capital projects fund.

The five village trustees in attendance, Aug. 22, unanimously granted four site development allowances related to setbacks, supporting the unanimous recommendation of the Development Review Board, to approve the planned development application. Trustee Katie Brennan did not attend.

Park district officials are awaiting approval from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for the storm water drainage component of the project, which Michael Sletten, park district executive director, said is expected “in a week or so.” The water drainage component features a 3½- to 5-foot-deep swale area between the tennis courts and Lake Street.

Sletten said officials have set a tentative start date of Oct. 1 although work on the batting cages will start in September. Concrete and fencing work will take place in mid- to late-November. The later start will likely delay painting until spring, Sletten noted.

The only significant changes to the project since it was introduced to the village board in February were adding lights to the basketball hoop area and replacing the existing flag pole, which was suggested by village officials. The new 30-foot-by-6-foot aluminum flag pole with a solar light will be installed next to the synthetic infield scoreboard.

The lights in the new basketball hoop area, relocated from inside the tennis courts, will be controlled with a switch so that lights will not be on when the courts are not in use. The latest the basketball courts will be lighted is 10 p.m., the same as the tennis courts. The platform tennis courts will remain, with an 11 p.m. limit.

As they were in February, village officials were generally receptive to the proposed improvements, Aug. 22, although Trustee Erika Bachner and Village President Cathy Adduci questioned whether lighting on the basketball hoop areas would be adequate. Todd Abrams of WT Group, the district’s engineering firm, contended lighting as proposed would be sufficient, but district officials agreed with Adduci’s suggestion that they revisit the issue if complaints are received after the project is complete.

Park district officials previously said the age and condition of the tennis courts warrants their replacement. In addition to replacing the tennis courts, plans call for installing new LED lights. The new lights will be controlled by three separate switches to eliminate lighting unused courts. All new tennis courts will be lined for pickle ball. 

The first set of relocated batting cages will be permanently installed along Central, west of the Keystone Center, centrally located between the two baseball fields. A second set of cages will be a temporary facility east of the synthetic infield with a permeable surface and nets up only during the youth baseball season. Batting cages will be lighted.

In addition, the tennis hitting walls will be relocated to the east fence on the new south tennis court.

Although 20 trees will be removed to accommodate the project, Sletten said 13 trees will be planted in the project area and 52 additional trees will be planted in Keystone and other parks.

“I think it looks great,” Adduci said. “I applaud you guys for doing it.”

Under the River Forest Zoning Ordinance, no new construction, expansion of any building, or addition of any parcel or change of use shall be permitted in a Public, Recreational, Institutional District, unless approved as a planned development. 

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