After spending the past several years concentrating on improvements to its two biggest parks, the village of Brookfield will next begin looking at how to improve its third-largest  — Candy Cane Park, located on the far north side of the village at 29th Street and Park Avenue.

On March 23, the Brookfield Village Board gave the go-ahead for Hitchcock Design Group to begin a master planning process for Candy Cane Park and to develop an application for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant of up to $400,000 from the state of Illinois.

While the status of future OSLAD grants in Illinois remains in doubt — Gov. Bruce Rauner has frozen disbursement of any grant money until the state’s next budget cycle at the earliest — village officials want to be ready to submit an OSLAD application by July 1 should the state begin accepting proposals again.

“We feel optimistic that these funds will remain intact,” said Steve Konters, principal of Hitchcock Design group, which has been Brookfield’s parks design consultant since 2007.

But if the village expects to have an OSLAD application ready to roll by the end of June, planning for a new and improved Candy Cane Park will need to start in earnest later this month and wrap up by the end of May.

According to a letter sent by Konters to Village Manager Keith Sbiral in March, it will cost about $14,000 for Hitchcock Design Group to manage the master planning process and write the grant application.

Running parallel to that process, Hitchcock Design Group will also complete a Park Design Guideline document, which will outline standards for park equipment and amenities to ensure a uniform look for Brookfield parks and make them easier to maintain. The cost to complete that document will be $7,800.

The Candy Cane Park master plan process would be a public one, said Konters, and would include two community meetings in addition to getting input from the village’s administrative staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

That process mirrors the one the village followed prior to adopting a new Open Space Master Plan. Prior to the Open Space Plan, major park improvements at Ehlert Park and Kiwanis Park were planned without much, if any, input from either the public or the Parks and Recreation Commission.

“The intent is to develop a master plan that is going to be grounded in resident input,” Konters told the village board on March 23.

However, Hitchcock Design Group has already solicited input from the Parks and Recreation Commission, which came up with a laundry list of ideas — a water feature, more diversity of park equipment for more age groups, more trees, a special toddler area, a sand area and special rubber playground surface — for planners to consider during the Candy Cane process.

The last time Candy Cane Park underwent significant improvement was about 15 years ago.

Village Trustee Michael Garvey suggested holding one of the two public meetings at Candy Cane Park, while trustees Nicole Gilhooley, Brian Oberhauser and Ryan Evans wondered if the process could include an online survey component, along the lines of the survey that was part of the process for the Open Space Plan.

“The online component is vital,” Evans said. “We got more from that [online survey] than any meeting we had” for the Open Space Plan effort.

A date for the first community meeting hasn’t been set yet, but will be in the next week or so, Sbiral said.