BLOOMINGDALE – The Bloomingdale Park District Board of Commissioners voted June 16 to provide matching funds for a grant that would renovate Circle Park.
Commissioners say the park district currently has $167,600 in its budget to restore the park. If the district adds another $52,549 to that total, it will be able to completely match the funds an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant could offer.
Executive Director Carrie Fullerton said the project costs $440,298 in total. If the district receives the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant, it will pay 50 percent of the cost, and the grant will cover the remaining balance, she said.
The application for the state grant is due July 1.
“Hundreds of communities are applying for this grant,” board President Sebastian "Buzz" Puccio said.
Commissioners say Circle Park, 163 Fairfield Way, is the third most utilized park in the district. If the district receives the grant, Circle Park will be remodeled with a new nature playground, picnic shelter, small skate spot, adult outdoor fitness equipment, rain gardens, nature areas and improvements to the storm water system and roller hockey rink.
These renovation plans were developed based on the park district’s Strategic Plan, Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan and the most recent needs assessment.
“This is the best thing that could happen to Bloomingdale,” said resident Nick Argentine, who’s lived in Bloomingdale for 28 years. “They’re redeveloping the whole town to give everyone the same advantages.”
Fullerton said if the district doesn’t receive the grant, it won’t do the full project and will only replace the playground.
Bloomingdale Park District has 13 parks with more than 160 acres of open land space, according to its website.
Puccio said studies show that a property's proximity to open space and park land contributes to its value.
Circle Park has 20.5 acres of open land space and amenities such as a playground, tot lot, walking path, basketball court, football field, two baseball diamonds and a roller hockey rink.
“The equipment is no longer safe. There’s a life span attributed to equipment, and we’re well beyond it,” Puccio said. “As years go on, the needs of our customers change. Kids today don’t do the same thing they did 20 years ago when the park was built.”
However, some residents feel the district should instead use its funds to clean one of its creeks, which they say hasn't been cleaned in years.
“You’ve got trees that are 20 feet tall in the creek,” resident Ted Pacut said.
Puccio said the creek may not belong to the district. He added if the district tries to repair it, it could be sued.
“We’ll find out whose creek it is,” the board president said. “If it’s ours, we’ll clean it up.”