Dist. 203, park district deal details use, funding for new Naperville turf field

  • Knoch Park is undergoing the first phase of field improvements that eventually will include a new softball field, synthetic turf field and pickleball courts.

      Knoch Park is undergoing the first phase of field improvements that eventually will include a new softball field, synthetic turf field and pickleball courts. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Work is under way to build a new softball field at Knoch Park for use by Naperville Central High School as well as Naperville Park District activities.

      Work is under way to build a new softball field at Knoch Park for use by Naperville Central High School as well as Naperville Park District activities. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/25/2019 6:11 PM

Naperville Park District and Naperville Unit District 203 have come to terms about who will use a new synthetic turf field in Knoch Park and who's going to pay for it.

The multisport field is set to be under construction beginning early next year so it will be ready for play next fall at the park just south of Naperville Central High School.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The facility will be a 125,000-square-foot playing surface for sports such as football, soccer and lacrosse, with bleachers, gates, netting, goals, lights, signs, a scoreboard, a press box, a drinking fountain and landscaping.

An agreement recently approved by both governing bodies spells out a plan for "the optimum use by the two public agencies of the property improvements being developed for the taxpayers."

Under the agreement, the park district will pay 57 percent of the field's $4.2 million budgeted cost, or roughly $2.4 million, while the school district will cover the remaining 43 percent, or $1.8 million.

The cost split is based on a preliminary schedule for field use. The schedule varies by month, but typically allows District 203 teams to get field time on weekday afternoons and some evenings during the school year, while the park district gets time during other evenings and on weekends as well as the majority of use hours during the summer.

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The park district plans to rent the field to other groups when neither school nor park uses are occupying it.

"Our respective staffs did a great job of working out the details of peak usage," park board President Rich Janor said.

The District 203 school board unanimously approved the deal Monday after a brief discussion of how maintenance will work.

Superintendent Dan Bridges said the park district will use rental fees to cover regular maintenance, such as sweeping, turf repair and landscaping. Any costs not covered by rental revenue will be split by the two districts, with the school district paying a share proportionate to its use time on the field.

The park board approved the agreement Sept. 12. Janor called it "a real winner for both parties."

"Any time multiple governing agencies can cooperate for the benefit of all, that type of agreement is a slam dunk from our standpoint," he said.

As field work begins next year, the park district also will be building pickleball courts with fencing, lighting and wind screens. These will be funded without any contribution from the school district.

The deal for synthetic field funding and use follows a similar pact that governs a new softball field under construction in Knoch Park that is set to be ready for use next spring.

The softball agreement says the school district will pay roughly $800,000 to build the field on land it leases from the park district and will allow the park district to use it when school softball teams aren't there.

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