Crews that will remove lead from 17 acres of soil at Sportsman's Park near downtown Naperville got the go-ahead this week to begin a second phase of work to make the area safer and more of a destination for recreation.
Naperville park board commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a $2.9 million contract with Environmental Contractors Inc. of Loves Park near Rockford to complete the second phase of the project by the end of this year.
The company will remove lead from the land inside the park's eastern fence line, create accessible trapshooting stations with lighting, install trails, build a parking lot with pervious concrete and replace the gravel road to the clubhouse with asphalt.
Park district Executive Director Ray McGury said mobilization of workers and equipment to conduct the soil cleanup began Friday. Work on the site, at 735 S. West St., could start as soon as next week.
"The rest of this year, we'll be working on this land," McGury said.
The park district is cleaning up the site through an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency program that will award a letter stating no further remediation is necessary when all lead contamination has been removed. Environmental testing in 2012 determined some lead contamination remains in the soil from Sportsman's Park's years as a trapshooting range. Lead pellets were banned in 1998, but they were used at the park for decades before then, officials have said.
The park district has budgeted $5 million for completion of the Sportsman's Park project, which is largely taxpayer-funded. A grant of $262,000 from the city of Naperville's Special Events and Cultural Amenities fund will put some revenue from food and beverage taxes toward the project as well.
So far, lead has been removed from a section of the park outside the eastern fence line, and many invasive trees inside the fencing have been cut down. The park district has spent $518,607 on that work along with more than $800,000 on environmental testing and engineering services.
McGury has said the goal is to reopen the shooting ranges and create more recreational options for walking, jogging and fishing at Sportsman's Park. Officials plan to stock the park's two ponds with fish and replant 150 trees when site work is finished.
Park board approval of the $2.9 million contract for the second phase of work was delayed two weeks for the park district to meet with DuPage County's Division of Environmental Concerns about wetland restoration related to the two ponds.
McGury said the park district will submit topographical photos to show how the area will be restored. Wetland restoration is not likely to begin until later this year when lead removal is finished.