Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn is in line for $3.6 million in upgrades, which is part of a larger plan that may cost a total of about $19.1 million over the next several years.
On Tuesday, the DuPage County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners listened to a presentation from Jason Dwyer officials with Wight & Company, a firm conducting designs for the first phase of Willowbrook improvements that will cost roughly $3.6 million.
Funds for the first phase of upgrades will come from a $3 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The money was initially to be used for land acquisition, but forest officials said they were given permission to reassign the funds to Willowbrook, where injured animals are nursed back to health.
The other $600,000 will come from a pool of about $790,000 in donations to the center.
Construction for the first phase is set to begin in June of next year and is slated to be complete by April 2014, officials said.
Work will include: renovations to the existing wildlife rehabilitation support facility to create more rehabilitation space to address increased demand; a permeable-paver parking lot and landscaping; infrastructure improvements that will prepare the site for the construction of a new visitor center and clinic.
Forest officials said the site will remain open during this construction phase.
Other changes slated for the future include a new $1 million visitor center, $2.8 million on improvements to animal exhibits, and $1.5 million to upgrade the animal rehab clinic, and other projects that bring the total to about $19.1 million.
But no extra staff will be needed once the changes are done, officials said.
Commissioner Mike Formento, who oversees District 4, which includes Glen Ellyn, said he is proud of what Willowbrook is now, as well as what it will become when the work is complete.
"It's such a wonderful opportunity for the district to have a facility that will eventually become world-known," he said.