After years of making minimal improvements to Ackerman Park, Glen Ellyn Park District is exploring a master plan with a potential $7 million price tag that could include trail connections, improved lighting, turf fields and an indoor pool.
Officials met with residents in December to gather input on proposals for the park at 800 E. St. Charles Road. Norris Design, a national landscape architectural firm with a Glen Ellyn office, met with staff and the park board and is expected to present plans to the board by February.
A feasibility study for a potential indoor pool, conducted by Isaac Sports Group, a Michigan-based consultant, could be ready in March for public review. The proposed pool would be funded by the Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative and possibly could be built as an addition to the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center.
Ackerman Park, originally named North Park, was purchased from Glenbard High School District 87 in 1966. Renamed Ackerman in 1973, the last major renovations were done in the 1990s with the installation of hubs that included four softball fields, an irrigation system for the park and lighting. Batting cages were installed in 1996.
Since then, use of the park has increased dramatically. Ackerman is home to more than 30 travel soccer teams, 1,000 house league soccer players and significant participation in youth and adult softball.
"With demand, there is expectation," said Dave Harris, the park district's executive director. "Growing up in Oklahoma, I was just happy to have a backstop and a dirt infield. That's not what people expect now to go out and play sports. What we want to do is ... have a long-term plan so we can spend our money wisely."
Renovations could be constructed over four phases:
• The first phase, at north lower Ackerman with a cost of $3 million to $3.3 million, would include a turf field, lighting, goalie practice areas, irrigation, a new parking lot, a connection to the Great Western Trail access, a shelter and a bike station.
• The second phase, at middle lower Ackerman with a cost of $1.35 million to $1.6 million, would include two new adult softball fields, lighting, irrigation, trails, signage and a bike station.
• The third phase, at south lower Ackerman with a cost of $725,000 to $850,000, would be a softball field core renovation.
• The fourth phase, at upper Ackerman, includes two proposals. One, at a cost of $1.45 million to $1.6 million, would regrade game fields and install sports turf seed with drainage and irrigation. A second proposal, with just limited improvements at a cost of $300,000 to $400,000, would include trails, workout stations, a shelter and a bike station.
Harris said the district originally thought installing turf would be too expensive, but officials opted to consider it to make the fields more usable.
"It isn't that dramatic. We're not talking about changing the scope of the park," Harris said. "The expectation is that these should be properly maintained and conditioned fields, and they are not. We need to develop a means to get there."
With board approval, Harris said some of the more practical elements of the plan could be implemented immediately. Broader concepts like athletic turf and lighting could take longer.
Money would come from the district's capital budget, grants and fundraising.
"We certainly don't have the funds to contribute $7 million. This exceeds our current financial capability," Harris said. "The next two months will be a critical time to finalize feedback on the plan and approve a conceptual design. It's still just a plan, we still have a ways to go, but it's a significant plan."