Umpires, ballplayers and parents attending games at Jaycee/Ehlert Park in Brookfield no longer need to wonder when they’ll have to clear the field if ominous weather moves in.

Whenever lightning is in the vicinity, a horn will sound to let everyone know to seek shelter – and will also let them know when it’s OK to resume play. In early June, the village of Brookfield installed a lightning detection system on the roof of the Brookfield fire station at Shields and Sunnyside avenues, near the ball fields.

The device, which looks a little like an inverted metal saucer, includes horns that sound in different directions and a strobe light to alert people whenever dangerous weather is approaching.

“It goes off whenever there’s stormy weather,” said Brookfield Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, who added that the system operates whether games are happening at the field or not, at any time of day. “It detects a change in the atmosphere a couple of miles out.”

When the threat of lightning has passed, said Ginex, the device sounds an all-clear by sounding three short beeps.

Information is sent wirelessly to a computer device inside the police department at Brookfield Village Hall. That computer is also connected to a similar detection system at Kiwanis Park, which was installed in 2010 courtesy of a grant from Riverside Township.

Brookfield had sought a grant for the Ehlert Park detection device from Lyons Township but was unsuccessful. The $4,500 for the system at the south side park was paid for through the village’s general operating fund.

Ribbon cutting on June 30

The lightning detection system is one of the more unobtrusive improvements to Ehlert Park this year. Earlier this spring, work crews finished a $1 million project that added a new concession stand, pavilion, zero-depth splash pad, exercise equipment and a storm-water retention swale to the west central area of the park.

The splash pad went live in early June with dozens of kids enjoying the cool water on a couple of humid, 90-degree days.

"It's been mobbed," said Ginex.

While the concession stand and splash pad and other new amenities are already in use, the village will officially cut the ribbon on the new improvements at a ceremony scheduled for Saturday, June 30 at 10:30 a.m.

The Ehlert Park improvements were paid for largely through three grants – a park improvement grant from Lyons Township, a capital improvement grant from the state of Illinois and an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the federal government.

Officials are still tallying the final cost for the improvements, said Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral. In February, the last time Sbiral said the village received a payment request from the contractors, officials estimated the final cost at $1,013,942 or about 3.5 percent over budget.