A woman in a wheelchair wanting to see her grandson play baseball at South Elgin's Concord Park was able to this summer because of an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible trail completed last winter. Now, because of an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant, the village can extend the accessible pathway even farther, completing the trail system in the park.
Jim Reuter, director of South Elgin Parks and Recreation, said the department found out about the grant about two weeks ago and will stake out the trail area Friday. The village board this week approved an intergovernmental agreement with IDNR for the federal Recreational Trails Program grant, which frees the public works department to start work as soon as possible.
Reuter said there have been requests for better trails through Concord Park by people hoping for wheelchair access but the expansion will benefit far more people. Parents interested in some exercise on the path during their kids' Little League games or bicyclists wanting to cut through the park to get from Paine Street to Valley Forge Avenue will be able to do so.
"It'll definitely open up a variety of facilities that people can access a different way than walking on the sidewalk or the street," Reuter said.
The trail will be a figure-eight pattern around the multiple ball fields in the park. It will provide access from the concession stand building to the farthest baseball field without forcing people through parking lots or the grass.
The trail extension will cost about $41,900, entirely paid for with the state grant. The most recently completed portion of the trail cost almost $10,500 and will serve as the village's 20 percent contribution to the total project cost, required by the grant terms.
Money for Concord Park is the second round of funding South Elgin got from the Recreation Trails Program, which also helped cover the cost of a trail head at East Avenue Park. Reuter said in his 15 years with the village, almost $2.5 million in local, state and federal grants have helped complete parks and recreation projects. And, while no new trails are on the immediate horizon, he said the department is always looking for ways to improve the system.