A plan to renovate Candy Cane Park in Brookfield that has been on ice since 2015 has new life, the village’s recreation director told members of the village board at their meeting on March 25.
Later this year, said Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari, she plans to submit an application for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant for up to $340,000 through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the project.
Applications can be submitted to the state in the fall. Awardees will be notified in spring 2020.
Fortunately for Ferrari, the village already has a fully realized project to submit to the IDNR. A plan to renovate Candy Cane Park, which is located at 28th Street and Park Avenue, was fleshed out in 2015 by the village after a series of meetings with residents of the area and an online survey to gather their input.
“This project stood out to me, because the park hasn’t been touched in quite some time,” Ferrari said.
Brookfield had contemplated going for an OSLAD grant back in 2015, when the plan was finalized but held off when then-Gov. Bruce Rauner froze OSLAD funds. The program, which is funded through real estate transfer taxes, has since been restored.
“Knowing that OSLAD grants will be released, we felt it was time to look at projects that were ready to go,” Ferrari said.
The 2015 plan for Candy Cane Park called for installing a new play structure for children ages 2-12, a climbing structure, spinners, swings (including two ADA-accessible) and a 20-by-20 foot pavilion in the northeast quadrant of the park.
The southeast quadrant, where there’s now a makeshift ballfield, would remain a T-ball field. The hard-surface tennis court, play area in the southwest corner of the park would be reconstructed and somewhat reduced in size. The tennis court would be rebuilt and a “sport court” area added with a pair of basketball half-courts to the east of the tennis court.
A bioswale with native plantings would run along the western edge of the northwest corner of the park, which would remain a largely passive recreation area. New paths would wind throughout the park, improving pedestrian access to all areas.
Before submitting a grant application, however, Ferrari said she would again reach out to residents in the vicinity of Candy Cane Park to have another look at the 2015 plan and make sure it still ticks the boxes residents want it to.
“I want to make sure these [amenities] are still the relevant needs for the park,” Ferrari said.
Ferrari said she hoped to meet with neighborhood residents – anyone from the village would be welcome – in late April or early May.
“The sooner the better,” Ferrari said. “That will give us enough time for notice and make sure we get the volume of community input.”
Back in 2015, the estimated cost for the improvements was pegged at just about $602,000. The last time any major improvements were made to Candy Cane Park was about 20 years ago.
Ferrari told the village board that if the village succeeds in obtaining a grant, the plan would be to split the cost between fiscal years 2020 and 2021.