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Local News

Willowbrook receives $400,000 grant for Willow Pond Park rehab

WILLOWBROOK – One of Willowbrook’s most frequented parks will soon undergo a complete renovation.

Willow Pond Park, a 4.17-acre destination located at Plainfield Road and Adams Street, is the recipient of a $400,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant, a state funded program that provides financial assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space.

Opened in 1985 and boasting a playground, canopy, grills, picnic tables, fishing pier and A 1.5-acre pond, Willow Pond Park is the only area in DuPage County to receive an OSLAD grant.

The $400,000 grant award will be used to complete a renovation of Willow Pond Park in two phases over the next two years.

The grant covers half the renovations fees, which total $800,000. The matching $400,000 will come from the Village of Willowbrook’s general operating budget.

Willowbrook officials explain that while the park is frequently used, the village has not had ample funds to complete the desired renovation.

“Willow Pond Park was the second most used park we have. …I think it’s going to be a really heavily used park after this,” Willowbrook Village Administrator Tim Halik said.

Halik said the park has not been upgraded for several years and is in “dire need” of a makeover.

That wish was granted April 5 when Gov. Pat Quinn announced the recipients of the 2014 OSLAD grant awards, naming Village of Willowbrook one of 46 other grant recipients.

“We were ecstatic,” Halik said upon hearing the news. “We got a confidential call from the governor’s office [April 4] inviting us to an invite-only [briefing] of Gov. Quinn’s announcement, which was made in La Grange Park.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get the message until Monday morning [April 7] and we heard the news that Gov. Quinn announced it.”

The project will include an installation of several natural based elements, including a green roof park shelter, a nature based playground and a nature themed spray pad, according to Willowbrook Parks and Recreation Supervisor Kristin Violante.

Additionally, the pond will be dredged and deepened in order to provide a better habitat for the native plants and animals. The park district hopes to begin dredging sometime in 2014, according to Violante.

“We’re also going to have some fishing stations around the pond that are made of rock so people can get closer to the pond,” Violante said.

Catering to special needs residents also remains a top priority, as the current pier is wheelchair accessible.

“We want individuals with any kind of special need, whether it be physical or mental, to be able to go out there and enjoy it,” she said.

The schedule remains tentative, but a majority of the renovations and construction and will most likely begin in 2015 while work on the pond will begin in 2014, according to Halik.

WIllowbrook previously applied for the grant on several occasions, but came up empty each time. But, after seeking consultant advice, the village allocated funds to create a master plan.

“I asked for $20,000 to be included in the fiscal year 2012-13 budget to do a master plan and there was some opposition to whether that was warranted or not,” Halik said. “Well now that $20,000 got us $400,000 so it all worked out.”

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ABOUT OSLAD grants

he Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Program is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space. Projects vary from small neighborhood parks or tot lots to large community and county parks and nature areas. FFunding assistance up to 50 percent of approved project costs can be obtained.

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