$2.4 million park improvement in Libertyville will include six dedicated pickleball courts

Bids are approved, contractors lined up and after years on the drawing board a major transformation of the north side of Nicholas Dowden Park in Libertyville is set to begin.

“Now it's time to get the shovels in the ground,” said Ashley Engelmann, deputy village administrator.

A $400,000 state grant being applied to the project brings the estimated investment to about $2.4 million, not including $343,323 for bidding and construction management services approved last fall or potential costs to rebuild the parking lot.

The plan includes six new dedicated pickleball courts, a “destination” playground, basketball court, linear skate park, vegetative/native garden swale, walking trail loop and the village’s first zip line.

Part two of flood solution for Libertyville's Highlands neighborhood set to begin

Flood reduction projects mesh with big plans for Libertyville's Nicholas-Dowden Park plans

Nicholas Dowden Park, located on either side of Crane Boulevard and east of Butterfield Road, is in the south central part of town. A master plan was developed in 2020 as part of a continuing village initiative to revitalize and upgrade parks.

“We're following through on our commitment to invest there and we're executing,” said Trustee Pete Garrity, who chairs the village board’s parks and recreation committee. “It's more than a refresh, it's a renovation.”

  The existing playground at Nicholas Dowden Park in Libertyville will be replaced with new equipment, a pour-in-place surface, clubhouse/play structure, zip line and other amenities. Mick Zawislak/, 2023

The work is meant to transform the facility into a gathering place for residents from adjacent neighborhoods to safely walk or bike to and provide a range of experiences and activities.

“This community park will have something for all ages in the village, and is it is extremely exciting to see such an extensive improvement that is intended to happen only every 30 to 40 years, which will provide memories for families,” said Village Administrator Kelly Amidei.

Work is anticipated to begin, weather permitting, in April.

“The hope is by sometime this fall we'll be able to start using parts of the park,” Garrity said.

The existing tennis courts will be resurfaced and remain with the inline roller hockey rink and restroom building. All other amenities will be new or replaced, Engelmann said.

The main package of six contracts approved last week totaled $1.63 million with alternates to add four additional pickleball courts (for a total of six); resurface existing tennis courts; complete concrete work for the linear skate park and features; and, install a pour-in-place playground surface rather than wood fiber chips.

Prices to rebuild the parking lot are being sought and will be considered separately.

About $310,000 in contracts also were awarded for playground equipment and precast concrete skate park elements.

Plans for the north side of the park were delayed to accommodate an immense flood control project for the south side, which was lowered several feet to create 12.5 million gallons of stormwater storage.

Three miles of storm sewer pipe ranging from 24 to 84 inches in diameter and replacing 35,000 square yards of pavement also were part of the $15.5 million Highlands subdivision flood reduction project completed last fall.

It was named project of the year in the environment $5 million to $25 million category by the Lake County branch of the American Public Works Association and is advancing to the Chicago chapter competition.

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