Clarendon Hills Park, Chicago, Illinois

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Clarendon Hills reviews plan for new park

June 16, 2009 By AMY DEIS adeis@pioneerlocal.com

Although Clarendon Hills resident Scott Ryan is pleased the park district purchased new land for a park behind his home, he's worried about people peeking in.

"I don't think they want to see us in the back yard as much as I don't want to see them," he said at Monday's special Clarendon Hills Park Board meeting. "I want to see some blue spruces there."

Keith Demchinski and Brad Haigh of Norris Design architects in Glen Ellyn presented the board and residents with concept plans for the 2.4-acre park at 5624 Western Ave.

Designs include a 29-space parking lot, soccer field, playground, pavilion, half basketball court and walking paths through a wooded area.

A 4-foot fence and natural screening will enclose the south, west and north sides of the park. Four- to 5-foot tall grasses, shrubs and perennials are part of the landscaping plans.

Residents raised concerns about screening to block views into their property, cars coming in and out of the parking lot and lighting.

Board President John Steeves said the lighting will be similar to that at Prospect School, which has neighboring homes. He suggested residents drive by there at night to get a feel for how bright the lights will be.

In 2008, the park district received a grant from the state's Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Fund for $550,000 to help purchase the property from the Jerry A. and Bessie Kruml Trust, said Don Scheltens, park district executive director.

Scheltens said the total cost of the land was $1.1 million and the district will pay the remaining cost over a 20-year period.

"For years we've been trying to find a park south of 55th Street," he said.

The district will build the park in three stages and spend about $250,000 in the first phase. That will consist of leveling the site for the soccer field, building the playground and pavilion and putting in the detention ponds.

Phase 2 will include the pathways and landscaping and phase 3 will be the back wooded area and fencing. Haigh said the plan included keeping as much of the natural landscape as possible, leaving the trees where the red tail hawks live.

"That's an amenity we can never replace," he said.

Resident Jill Pecken, whose property borders the north side of the park, said she enjoys this scene.

"There's four or five of them that fly in and out with their babies; that's beautiful," she said.

Scheltens said Norris Designs is working with the village about permit for zoning changes and variances. He said he doesn't know when the district will go to the Village Board.

Park Board member Don Knoll said the district wants to get the first phase done this fall.

"It's not going to be built in three months," he said. "We're working over time to work out the best solution to get the benefit of the community."