Three weeks after deciding the village couldn’t afford to seek federal funding to make improvements at Jaycee/Ehlert Park, the Brookfield village board on June 14 gave staff the go-ahead to submit an application for the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant for the work.
Initially trustees budgeted $200,000 in village funds to serve as a match for the OSLAD grant. In recent weeks, however, the board began backing away from using that money for the park improvements.
At a special meeting of the board at Brookfield Zoo on June 2, Village President Michael Garvey emphasized that he did not want village funds used to provide any matching dollars for the grant.
“The direction was clear that we were not going to explore using that $200,000 for the Ehlert Park project,” Garvey said. “That’s one line item we can count on not spending.”
Instead, the village now plans to use money granted to Brookfield last year by the state’s General Assembly as part of the massive 2009 capital projects bill. The state allocated $303,000 to Brookfield for “construction and renovation.”
The bulk of those funds were supposed to be used to replace gas tanks at the village’s public works building on Eberly Avenue. Instead, the money will be used as part of the match for an OSLAD grant.
“[State Rep.] Mike Zalewski told me the money is there and will be allocated to you,” said Village Manager Riccardo Ginex.
In addition to the state capital allocation, Brookfield received a $300,000 grant from the Township of Lyons earlier this year, specifically to fund construction of a new concession stand in Jaycee/Ehlert Park.
Ginex has asked the township to amend the language of the grant so the money can be used for any part of the Ehlert Park improvement master plan, which served as the application for the township grant in October 2008.
“In case the OSLAD grant doesn’t come through we may need some changes,” Ginex said. “So we’re keeping our options open.”
On June 14, village trustees in a 6-0 vote agreed to green light the OSLAD application, which needs to be submitted to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources by July 1.
The application will be completed by Steve Konters of Hitchcock Design group, the landscape architecture firm that was responsible for designing park improvements on the east side of Ehlert Park. The firm also created the design that served as the basis of the Lyons Township grant application.
Trustees on June 14 also agreed on what improvements will be included in the village’s OSLAD application. Choosing from three options, trustees voted 5-1 to move ahead with a plan to build a new concession stand in the northwest area of the park, near existing bathroom facilities. The application also includes plans to install a splash pad, pavilion and other items in the area now occupied by the Korean War memorial and the Kesman Memorial Garden.
As a result, the plan is to relocate both memorials south, at the corner of Gerritsen and Sunnyside avenues.
“All of the options indicate the master plan can be implemented in time,” said Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
Konters estimated the cost of the improvements at about $1 million. The most the village can expect to receive from an OSLAD grant is $400,000.
Key to all of the options is a storm water detention pond near the new splash pad/pavilion area. The storm water drainage issue must be implemented in any case, officials said, because it is being mandated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
The village failed to address storm water drainage when it built the Shields Avenue fire station at Sunnyside and Shields avenues many years ago adjacent to the park. If the OSLAD grant fails to materialize, Sbiral said, the plan is to build the concession stand and provide the storm water detention pond as required.