Des Plaines is planning about $400,000 in improvements at Apache Park and the surrounding neighborhood on the southeast side of town.
The goal of the plan -- developed over the course of the past year by city and park district officials, residents and business owners -- is to improve neighborhood well-being and safety in an area experiencing gang activity and lack of property upkeep.
Preliminary plans for Apache Park, at Pine Street and Highland Drive, include installation of a gazebo, fitness area, adventure play area for children, soccer field, community gardens and new walkways.
The plan also calls for improvements to parking lots, trash collection, landscaping and property maintenance in an area bounded by Oakton Street, Mannheim Road, Touhy Avenue and Lee Street.
The city received a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning grant last year to develop the plan, and now city planners are preparing to send in an application for a $200,000 state grant that would help pay half the costs of the proposed improvements.
The city and park district would each pay $100,000 in project costs.
"I think it's really going to change the whole atmosphere in the park and it's going to draw people to the park and make it a destination, which I don't think it's ever been," said 5th Ward Alderman Jim Brookman, whose ward includes the Apache Park neighborhood.
Brookman said he's going to try to form a homeowners associations in the area -- an idea that's been tried before and met with resistance. He hopes he can sell residents on the idea because of the money and effort being spent on park improvements.
"Homeowners associations would be the last component to ensuring maintenance of homes and property in whole area," Brookman said.
The plan employs the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design technique, which suggests lighting and sidewalk improvements, particularly along multifamily areas; securing the cul-de-sac at the southern end of Chestnut Street; and creating a new gateway plaza and parking lot at Prospect Avenue and Mannheim Road.
The plan also recommends rerouting a regional bike route to go through the park, and creation of after-school activities at Plainfield Elementary School and St. Stephen's Catholic Church.
City aldermen and park board commissioners this week unanimously endorsed a grant application for state funds that would help fund the Apache Park project.
"We've got some problems in this area," said 6th Ward Alderman Mark Walsten, chairman of the city council's community development committee. "We've got some gang activity. Police are involved over there. And I'm proud of the fact that instead of sending more cops in, we're actually doing something significant to this entire area."
Park: Des Plaines will apply for state grant to help