The area north of 31st Street in Brookfield doesn’t get a lot of attention. It’s a sleepy little neighborhood, hemmed in on two sides by forest preserves and on one side by another town. Not much news is generated out of that part of town, which probably suits the folks there just fine.
But the north side is about to get a little love from the village, in the form of an effort to give a face-lift to Candy Cane Park, a good-size parcel of greenspace that takes up about half a city block between 28th Street and 29th Street at Park Avenue.
The park features a tennis court, a sort-of oddly laid out solid-surface court with areas marked for foursquare and hopscotch and a solitary basketball backboard (with no court markings near it, as if to say, “Please don’t play basketball”), a kids’ playground area that looks like it ought to be able to accommodate more amenities, a forlorn backstop and areas of passive green space that, again, don’t look like they were particularly well-planned.
It’s not a surprise it ended up that way, the park design — particularly the tennis court/solid surface play area — became a political football. Instead of a comprehensive plan for the park, it was approved in pieces.
There’s a reason there’s only one basketball hoop and no court markings. There was a fear someone might use it.
After almost two decades, the village is looking to once again renovate the park, this time the right way.
Later this month, the village’s park design consulting firm will host the first of two public meetings to get resident input that will help create a Candy Cane Park Master Plan. The master plan will be needed in order for the village to submit an application for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant of up to $400,000 to the state of Illinois.
Right now, the governor has put a freeze on all OSLAD grant disbursements, so that’s a bit of a concern, and there’s no telling if or at what levels OSLAD grant funding will be included in the state’s 2015-16 fiscal year budget, which begins July 1.
But if the governor lifts the freeze on OSLAD, applications will be due July 1 and Brookfield needs to be ready to submit one. That can only be done if the village goes through the master planning process.
Even if OSLAD is limited or deep-sixed again, having a coherent plan for Candy Cane Park in the future will allow the village to budget its own money toward that capital improvement.
One thing though: Can anyone tell us how the heck the park got its name? What connection to candy canes does this slice of Brookfield have, exactly?
We’re not suggesting we create another political football by suggesting a name change, we’re just very curious about a very curious name for a park in Brookfield.