Work set to begin on Winnetka’s Skokie Playfield renovations
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:45AM
WINNETKA — The Winnetka Park District is set to break ground this month on the first phase of its $13 million plan to upgrade the Skokie Playfields and the Arthur C. Nielsen Tennis Center near Willow and Hibbard Roads.
A synthetic turf field sized for two football or lacrosse fields, or two baseball fields, will be installed immediately north of the Park District administration building, 540 Hibbard Road. That work is scheduled to begin this fall. A stormwater detention vault will be installed underneath a portion of the synthetic fields that will store water that will be available to irrigate the fields during periods of drought.
Park officials estimate that play on the synthetic fields could begin in June of 2013. The park renovation plan also calls for redeveloping and reconfiguring the natural ball fields to the north and west of the Winnetka Park District administration building and tennis center.
The fields will be repositioned with adjoining infields, improved pedestrian access, restrooms and sheltered seating.
Play on the new natural fields is expected to begin after two growing seasons or by June of 2014.
Park officials say the synthetic turf fields will allow greater usage of park facilities and allow the natural fields a period of “rest” between uses.
“The current fields receive significant usage and there is little time during the year for the natural fields to recover,” noted the park district in a recent presentation to the village.
A study showed that field usage was 89 percent of capacity in prime time hours and field conditions were compromised with holes, uneven grass surfaces and dirt that became exceedingly hard when dry.
During the first phase of work, which is scheduled to start this summer, an addition will be built onto the front of the Arthur C. Nielsen Tennis Center that will provide a gathering place for patrons. New restrooms, locker rooms and work spaces for staff have been incorporated into the design. The parking lots in front of the facility are being redesigned to improve the flow of traffic. The parking lots will be completed this fall and the addition completed early in 2013.
A major renovation also is on tap for the Skokie Playfield Service Center at the northeast corner of the site at Pine Street and Hibbard Road.
The estimated cost of the various projects has increased from about $10 million to $13 million since the master plan was first unveiled. But park officials still believe the work can be financed without increasing property taxes. Park district officials contend the cost of the projects can be covered using existing reserves and revenue bonds that are repaid from the operating revenues generated by the facilities.
The public is invited to attend a groundbreaking ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 14 at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center, 530 Hibbard Road, Winnetka.