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updated: 2/8/2011 3:21 PM

As seasons change, so do Fox Valley parks

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  • The popular trails at Waubonsie Lake will soon connect with new trails to the southwest when Waubonsie Creek Park is constructed - one of numerous projects the Fox Valley Park District is working on this season.

      The popular trails at Waubonsie Lake will soon connect with new trails to the southwest when Waubonsie Creek Park is constructed - one of numerous projects the Fox Valley Park District is working on this season.
    Courtesy Fox Valley Park District

 
 

The calendar shows 12 months, but we know the year is actually broken down into only two parts: construction season and winter.

It's tough to determine which one elicits more grousing, but at least construction season - unlike winter - reaps welcome rewards and significant public benefits.

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Just like the road crews improving our highways, the Fox Valley Park District has been busy with a range of park projects this season. From new construction to renovations, it's been eventful throughout the district.

In making every attempt to complete ongoing projects as soon as possible, work will continue - perhaps even into early winter - as weather permits. Here's an update.

New Haven Community Park: Located in an older, densely developed area on Aurora's near west side, this 20-acre parcel is being transformed into a hub of recreation with ball fields, soccer fields and a paved multiuse trail, with completion expected in spring of 2011. This intergovernmental partnership includes the city of Aurora and Kane County Forest Preserve District.

Simmons Community Park: This school-park site along Indian Trail on Aurora's east side is undergoing renovations that include a community playground, large picnic shelter, regraded ball fields and soccer fields and an intra-park trail system. A $400,000 state grant is helping fund the project.

Waubonsie Creek Park: Construction begins later this month to convert a 20-acre parcel of land off Montgomery Road into a vibrant community park with ball fields, soccer fields and regional trails on both sides of Waubonsie Creek that will connect with the popular trails at Waubonsie Lake and extend the "Emerald Strand" that begins at Spring Lake to 232 acres of continuous greenway.

Waubonsie Lake Park: In conjunction with Waubonsie Creek Park, improvements include new restrooms and shelter with fireplace, scenic lakeside overlooks and fishing pier.

Cool Acres Riverfront Park: A riverside favorite located at Sullivan Road and Route 25, Cool Acres was revitalized with major improvements to the large shelter. A paved parking lot will soon increase capacity to 70 vehicles.

Veterans Island: Perhaps you've noticed the big boulders that now line the perimeter of this island off the Illinois Avenue bridge.

The shoreline stabilization project will protect the island from erosion for generations to come. Also, the marina has been dredged, with a new boat launch and pier added for improved access to the Fox River.

Fox River Trail Gap: New trail construction on the west shoreline of the Fox River is complete, running northward from the Virgil Gilman Trail to Hurds Island, where a future bridge will be constructed across the west channel and continue to the trail to the North Avenue bridge.

On the horizon: Look for construction to begin this fall on Phase I of the Blackberry Farm Master Plan. Also, a new bridge for the Virgil Gilman Trail where it crosses Galena Boulevard is in the works.

These projects are just the tip of the iceberg, the latest among 35 park construction or renovation projects to be carried out in the last five years.

Residents have been the centerpiece to progress - with their votes and with their visions. The referendum that passed with 65 percent voter approval in 2008 has helped fund many of these projects, while the feedback, input and ideas provided by residents have guided development of virtually every master plan.

Practicing fiscally sound policies is paramount as well, and the district adheres to strict standards as stewards of taxpayer money. Strong financial management has saved costs and resulted in revenue growth of more than $80 million during the last five years, including the most recent savings of $2.1 million from refunding of a general obligation park bond initially sold after the 2002 referendum.

As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And in the case of Aurora, North Aurora and Montgomery, residents enjoy a thriving park system that provides recreation and open space for all. That bodes well year-round, no matter what the season.

Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at jlong@fvpd.net

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