Hoffman Estates poised to approve plan for Birch Park improvements

Hoffman Estates village trustees voiced support Monday for the Hoffman Estates Park District's proposed improvements to Birch Park - former site of the now-demolished Twinbrook School.

The plan, for which the park district received a $225,000 state grant last year, would include a biking and walking trail, a shelter with picnic tables, a sledding hill, and courts for basketball and four square.

The park at 1045 Ash Road would retain its practice-size soccer field.

Because of the park district's autonomy as another local government, the village's review of the site plan is limited to ensuring it has no negative affects on surrounding homes, Hoffman Estates Director of Development Services Peter Gugliotta said.

The 30-foot setback from neighboring properties and mature landscaping screen for the parking lot meet the village's standards, Gugliotta said. And the fact that no lighting is proposed removes another potential item of review, he added.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is in the process of independently reviewing the stormwater drainage aspects of the plan.

Dustin Hugen, the park district's director of parks, planning and maintenance, said all residents who have attended planning meetings for the project have supported improving the park in some fashion.

That was true of the few residents who attended this week's planning, building and zoning committee meeting at village hall. Some voiced specific concerns about the design, but not opposition to the entire project.

Among those concerns is that the proposed basketball court sits near a house and could attract large crowds and noise. Another is that with only 15 parking spaces, additional vehicles would park on the street, where there's already a tendency to pull onto lawns without sidewalks.

Hugen said the park won't host programs, reducing the likelihood of large groups coming to use the soccer field. He also believes that the small basketball court is unlikely to draw traffic from beyond the neighborhood.

Those factors, along with limiting asphalt to reduce issues for the MWRD, led to the decision to keep the parking lot at 15 spaces, Hugen said.

"I think this is a much-needed amenity in the Parcel A area," Mayor Bill McLeod said, referring to one of the village's earliest developed areas. "I congratulate you and the park district for bringing this forward."

The former Twinbrook School was built in the mid-1950s for those early Hoffman Estates residents. The vacant building was torn down in 2018, just before the park district acquired the site from Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54.

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