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posted: 2/18/2014 5:30 AM

Glen Ellyn park board to review Ackerman plan

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A final version of an Ackerman Park master improvement plan with a potential price tag of nearly $5.3 million will be presented Tuesday to the Glen Ellyn Park District board.

The proposed plan would include reconfigured softball fields, additional trails and parking, improved soccer and softball fields and lighting, and additional amenities such as bathrooms, shelters and signs.

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The one-time North Park, purchased from Glenbard High School District 87 in 1966 and renamed Ackerman Park in 1973, has only undergone "Band-Aid" improvements over the past 30 years, officials said. Ackerman is home to more than 30 travel soccer teams, 1,000 house league soccer players and significant participation in youth and adult softball.

The board could vote on the plan as early as Tuesday.

"We essentially believe we're presenting a 95 percent product," said Dave Harris, the park district's executive director. "We'll take feedback from the board and it certainly can be modified. It's conceptual in nature anyway. This is a plan, a road map."

Norris Design -- the firm the park district hired to create the plan -- in January presented an 85 percent complete version to the board, a proposal that included the installation of two synthetic turf fields in northeast Ackerman Park. That came after Norris met with the Glen Ellyn Lakers soccer organization, which said it would be willing to undertake the fundraising for turf fields.

A majority of commissioners were not comfortable with the inclusion of turf in the plan without guaranteed funding, though. Norris was directed to focus on the option of creating quality grass fields while developing a cost comparison between the turf and grass options.

"We've done some surveys for our whole communities, and artificial turf fields were not part of the top five things that people wanted us to spend our money on," said Commissioner Melissa Creech, "and so I don't think they have a place in this plan right now."

Harris said turf fields will be presented Tuesday as an "appendix" to the plan; not a park district priority, but an idea to be considered should the Lakers come up with the necessary funding.

The plan is divided into phases based on need and cost. An accessible trail connection from the Great Western Trail to Ackerman, already budgeted by a grant the district received, could begin this spring or summer. Two softball fields could be removed in late fall or early spring 2015 to create green space in lower Ackerman. Improved lighting is another short-term objective.

Renovating upper Ackerman is a project to be considered over the next five to 10 years.

Money for the master plan would come from the district's capital budget, grants and fundraising.

The master plan cost estimates do not include an indoor pool, which would be funded by the Glen Ellyn Aquatics Initiative and could be built as an addition to the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center.

A pool feasibility study will be presented at the March 4 board meeting.

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