The Arlington Heights Park District plans to break ground this summer on an estimated $1 million worth of long-planned upgrades at Lake Arlington Park, paid for in part through a once-in-doubt state grant.
The improvements include repaving the 1.8-mile biking/walking path and widening it in five spaces to ease congestion; adding exercise stations along the way; installing new playground equipment, including separate play areas for ages 2 to 5 and ages 6 to 12; adding a fishing pier; expanding the boat dock; installing a large shelter and planting a sensory garden.
The park district learned in January 2015 it had been awarded a $400,000 state grant to help fund the park improvements, but the money was frozen soon after by newly sworn-in Gov. Bruce Rauner. It was among $26 million in grants suspended statewide under the Department of Natural Resources Open Space Land Acquisition and Development program, awarded to 72 local governments.
That put plans for the Lake Arlington project on hold until August 2016, when state officials released half the grant amount to the park district. The other half is expected to be received upon completion of the project, said Ben Rea, the district's director of parks and planning.
Though officials have made a couple of tweaks to the original plans, the overall project maintains its "recreational value," so the grant award amount remains the same, Rea said.
The district is now putting the project out to bid, with the park board expected to consider and approve a construction contract in late June. Construction would begin in the early fall, and must be complete by August 2018, under terms of the grant program.
The district will pay for project costs not covered by the state.
Officials are already in discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure necessary project permits, and they plan to talk to village officials as well, Rea said.
The park district is planning two open houses for the public to review plans for the park upgrades and provide input. The first is scheduled from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday, June 9, at the park, 2201 N. Windsor Drive, followed by another from 9 to 11 a.m. the following day.
A parking lot improvement project is planned separately for next spring.