The long-awaited overhaul of Candy Cane Park on Brookfield’s north end is set to break ground this spring with the expectation of reopening to the public during the summer, the village’s recreation director told trustees at their committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 22.

The initial start of construction had been scheduled for March 23, but that is unlikely now, said Parks and Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari, due to delays in getting soil samples because of the heavy snow and cold temperatures last month.

Those samples will be submitted to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and could result in additional MWRD permitting.

However, Ferrari said she fully expects a spring groundbreaking for the approximately $680,000 project, which will touch every inch of the park, located at the corner of 28th Street and Park Avenue.

The design includes a T-ball field with base paths and a new backstop, ADA-compliant walking paths throughout the park, a rain garden with native plantings in the northwest corner of the park to collect storm water runoff, new playground equipment, sport courts and a shelter.

A tennis court, which will be also marked for pickle ball, along with two half-court basketball courts will be located at the southwest end of the park. The entire sports court area will be fenced, with separate entrances for tennis/pickle ball and basketball.

The playground in the northeast corner will also be fenced to the north and east to provide protection and will feature ADA-accessible swings and separate areas with playground structures suitable for children ages 2-12 and kids 2-under. There will also be a bags court located in roughly the center of the park.

A central feature of the playground area, a nod to feedback received from students at Hollywood School during the preliminary planning stages, is a zip line structure.

Funding for the work is being split between the village and an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant of up to $400,000 obtained through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The Candy Cane Park redevelopment plan has been in the works for the past six years, but it has sat in a holding pattern first due to a freeze on state grants under Gov. Bruce Rauner and then by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago.

Work was slated to begin in the second half of 2020 with completion early this year, but village trustees postponed the project in the face of the pandemic and consequent shutdowns that impeded village revenues significantly for months. 

The last major overhaul for Candy Cane Park, the third largest in the village and the only public park in Brookfield north of 31st Street, came two decades ago. The village’s two biggest parks, Kiwanis Park in central Brookfield and Ehlert Park on the south end, have undergone significant improvements in the past decade.

This story has been changed to update the park site plan, which indicates the main playground structure is for children ages 2 to 12, not just 2 to 5.