Jaycee/Ehlert Park in Brookfield will get its long-awaited facelift as early as this year now that the village has been awarded another significant grant by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Village President Michael Garvey announced Monday that the village will receive a $398,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant to put towards improvement of the 5.67-acre portion of Ehlert Park that was purchased from Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 in 2004.
Brookfield is required to match the amount extended to it by the Illinois DNR, and will actually receive the grant money in the form of a reimbursement for work completed. Exactly how the village can be reimbursed will determine the pace of the work, Garvey said.
“It may or may not all have to be done in this fiscal year,” Garvey said. “Maybe it can be split in to two fiscal years. But we want to be able to budget real dollars for our share of the cost.”
Barry Cannizzo, the village’s grant writer who prepared the application and submitted it last June, said that under normal circumstances, the entire project is completed prior to the state reimbursing the village.
“In unusual circumstances, they may allow partial payments, but it’s not normally done that way,” he said. “They don’t have to start until the following year, and even get an extension.”
This is the second OSLAD grant Brookfield has received for the Ehlert Park project. In 2003, the village received $750,000 to help them actually purchase the property.
Part of the requirement of that grant was that improvement of the land must commence within three years of purchasing the land. That gives Brookfield until spring of 2007 to start construction and comply with the terms of the first grant.
With limited streams of revenue available to the village, Garvey said that he may recommend temporarily transferring funds from either the village’s water or garbage funds in order to get the project started. However, he said, those transfers would have to be paid back during the same fiscal year.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to comply with the grant,” Garvey said. “If we have to split it into two years, we’ll do that. If we have to do it all in one year, we’ll do that.”
In April 2005, prior to Garvey being sworn in as village president, Trustee Linda Stevanovich urged the board to permanently transfer $400,000 from the garbage fund into the general fund for the express purpose of matching a possible grant. But her motion failed to gain support from a majority of trustees.
By late May 2005, Cannizzo was working on the new grant application and architects had updated their improvement proposal for Ehlert Park, which will include new playing fields, walking paths, a skate park, a bocce court, a picnic area and parking. The cost for the updated plan was pegged at just over $830,000.
That plan was included with the village’s grant application to the state and will be used as the guide for future improvements, said Garvey.
“There was some concern about the parking in that plan, and we promised residents we’d revisit that,” said Garvey, “but I want to stick to the major portions of that plan.”
Village Manager Riccardo Ginex will be tasked with coming up with ways to fund the village’s portion of the park improvement project. Those ideas will be aired at the village’s 2006-07 budget hearings, which have been scheduled for March 22 and 29 at village hall.