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Elburn moves forward with park plans

ELBURN – Despite questions over total village investment and ongoing maintenance costs, the Elburn Village Board will be applying for a grant to fund park development on a 20-acre parcel in the Elburn Station neighborhood.

The board approved the measure Aug. 20 in a 4-2 vote, allowing the application process to begin for an OSLAD (Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development) grant in order to meet the Oct. 1 submission deadline.

If approved, it would provide matching funds of up to $400,000 for the project. The parcel set aside for park development is located north of Keslinger Road and east of Liberty Drive.

According to the village’s annexation agreement with Shodeen, the cost to develop parks within Elburn Station will be split 50/50 between the village and the developer.

The concept design of the park, with a total construction cost of $1.9 million, was completed by the Hitchcock Design Group, and includes soccer, lacrosse or football fields, a multi-purpose sports court, an ice-skating arena and several amenities.

The park would be available for use by anyone in the village.

Trustee Ken Anderson, one of the two “no” votes, said he is concerned about coming up with funding for a park built on land that may not be the best for it, and that the village would become responsible for maintenance of the park, requiring additional village staff time and funding.

“We’re not a park district,” he said. “This park will need maintenance.”

Anderson suggested that if the village wants to spend money on parks and park maintenance, it should ask residents to vote on a referendum for a park district and let them make the decision.

Village Administrator John Nevenhoven indicated these concerns were not reason enough to hold up the application process.

“If the village gets approved for the grant, we can still decide not to take it,” Nevenhoven said.

Shodeen has recommended the project, at an initial development cost of $800,000, be broken into phases, with the application for the OSLAD grant as phase I.

If received, the grant would provide up to $400,000 up front, with the village and Shodeen splitting the remaining $400,000. There would, however, be additional costs not included in this amount for land acquisition for right of way, as well as engineering costs to determine how best to deal with the floodway issue.

Shodeen’s Dave Patzelt has said this is the third park Shodeen has built in a floodplain in Kane County, so it is not uncommon. According to village officials, the baseball fields within the Blackberry Creek Subdivision also are in a floodplain.

The village would obtain input from a civil engineer, as well as ask for a full investigation for flooding by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Officials present from Hitchcock, which has experience in applying for such grants, said the village has a good chance of obtaining the OSLAD money.

The fee for the firm to complete the application process is $7,500, which the village already has paid.
Shodeen representative said there would be SSA (Special Service Area) money available for park maintenance, and that it should not be a huge cost for the village.

“A lot of people want this, and the grant money is available,” Village President Jeff Walter said.

Trustees Sue Filek, Bill Grabarek, Dave Gualdoni and Pat Schuberg voted to approve going forward; trustee Matt Wilson was the other “no” vote. 

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