By Bob Uphues
Candy Cane Park, located at 28th Street and Park Avenue on the north end of Brookfield, will get a comprehensive face-lift starting later this year courtesy of a grant awarded to the village by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The $340,000 the village will receive through the IDNR's Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant program will pay for roughly 50 percent of the total cost to improve the park, which hasn't undergone a major improvement for two decades.
Officials estimated the total cost of the project would be about $680,000. Half of the grant amount will be disbursed in advance of work starting, with the remainder being reimbursed to the village after the project is completed.
"Parks are a tangible reflection of the quality of life in a community," said Brookfield Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari in a press release. "This grant means that we are able to provide a better quality of life to our residents in a very tangible way."
Village Manager Timothy Wiberg told the Landmark that work on the park is expected to begin later this year, probably in the fall, and that it would be spread out over 2020 and 2021 in order for the village to pay for its share of the cost over two fiscal years.
It's not clear when in 2021 the park will reopen, but a good deal of the work involves moving earth, so it may be ready for use next summer.
The plan submitted with the OSLAD grant application was the one largely settled on by officials in 2015, when it was shelved after then-Gov. Bruce Rauner froze the OSLAD grant program, which is funded by real estate transfer taxes.
Improvements to be made at Candy Cane Park include upgrades to the existing T-ball field, installing a new tennis court and replacing the hard surface play area with one that features a pair of half-court basketball courts.
Additional upgrades include replacing the existing playground structure, erecting a picnic shelter and installing baggo and pickleball courts.
Changes to the landscape and hardscape in the park include planting a bioswale on the west end of the park to help alleviate poor drainage and the installation of a walking loop through the park.