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Major changes for Ackerman Park?

Glen Ellyn Park District considers master plan, millions in improvements

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 12:32 p.m. CST

GLEN ELLYN – After years of making small improvements to Ackerman Park, the Glen Ellyn Park District is developing a master plan that could include trail connections, improved lighting, turf fields and an indoor pool.

District officials met with community members to gather public input on the proposals included in the plan at a special meeting Dec. 10.

Although some work has been done at the park during the last 30 or so years, its condition has not changed significantly since the 1990s, according to district records.

With a master plan, the district hopes to identify immediate improvements and develop a long-term conceptual vision for Ackerman Park to guide future work.

"I think that's really valuable, and I think a lot of people in our community really want that," Glen Ellyn resident Kathy Dibadj said at the meeting. "They want to have good places for themselves to be and for their kids to be."

The park district selected Norris Design, a national landscape architectural firm experienced in sports and athletic complexes, to develop the plan.

"It's certainly not set in stone," said Keith Demchinski, leader of Norris Design's Chicago office, located in Glen Ellyn. "This is to be used as kind of a guideline or framework for the park district in future improvements and will likely be changing over the next couple of months as we continue to receive input and feedback from the stakeholders and adjacent property owners."

The cost of the plan, minus an indoor pool, is currently projected at $5.4 million to $7.4 million, according to district records.

While that amount is beyond the financial means of the district right now, the possibility of a referendum measure as a funding source is not yet part of the conversation, park district Executive Director Dave Harris said.

"I don't want another dollar in taxes sent our way," Glen Ellyn resident Jeff Cooper said.

Ackerman Park is home to several athletic fields, softball batting cages, a fitness center, a playground and natural areas. It primarily serves soccer and softball programs, summer camps and special events.

"I think this is a great step for the park district to engage in a master plan and to really understand what some of the opportunities are at Ackerman Park," Demchinski said.

While the park district initially told Norris Design not to include turf fields as a possibility due to the associated cost, installing two such fields on the northern portion of Lower Ackerman is now part of the proposed master plan. However, this work will be dependent on financial support from user groups, such as the Glen Ellyn Lakers Travel Soccer Organization, Harris said.

The plan has divided the work into potential phases, with the most expensive phase being the first, which includes items such as turf fields and a new parking lot. This phase is projected to cost between $3 million and $3.3 million, according to district records.

One item included in master plan considerations is a potential addition to the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center to accommodate an indoor pool.

Efforts to bring an indoor pool to the village have been led by the Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative, which raised the funds to pay for an Indoor Aquatics Feasibility Study, which is expected to be completed by late winter.

While the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center is being considered as a possible location for a pool, the park district is awaiting the outcome of the study before developing any detailed plans.

Norris Design is expected to present an about 85 percent complete version of the Ackerman Park Master Plan to the park district Board of Commissioners in January.

A finalized master plan will likely appear before the board in February.

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Potential master plan projects

• Additional trails and paths• Wayfinding signage• Improved lighting• Outdoor exercise stations along trails• Bike stations• Additional covered picnic areas• Improved restrooms• New parking• Softball field renovations• Turf fields• Indoor pool

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