- Dec 28, 2017
Ending years of speculation, the Northbrook Park District Board of Directors recently announced its decision to move forward on a four year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that will include the construction of a new Activity Center on a six acre parcel at Techny Prairie Park & Field site.
The CIP, titled “New Places to Play,” is an outgrowth of the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) approved by the Park Board in spring 2017, outlining key operational and capital initiatives determined by input from Northbrook residents. In addition to the Activity Center, the CIP includes a specific plan for Meadowhill Park that will expand programming at the Velodrome, and demolish the decades-old outdoor education building (adjacent to the Teams Challenge Course). The CIP also includes major improvements to Golf Operations.
The four key goals of the CIP are: adding indoor program space, updating existing facilities, establishing new parks and open space, and creating a community wide trail/bike network. Implementation kicks off this month with the initiation of the bidding process for architects and consultants for both the golf improvements and the Activity Center. Park District officials indicate that 2018 will be an in-depth planning year – working with architects and consultants and seeking further input from residents as designs unfold.
The Board announced its decision to move forward on the Activity Center based on resident and stakeholder feedback, which identified an interest in additional adult fitness and wellness programs and the lack of indoor recreational space. The community survey indicated that nearly 60% would use a fitness and exercise facility if available.
The new Center will be constructed in cooperation with the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) and will include dedicated space for the organization that serves 13 North Shore communities.
While the size of the facility is yet to be determined, the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Metrics Benchmarks identifies the need for 72,000 square feet of recreational space based on communities of similar population to Northbrook. There are no plans for an indoor pool in the Center.
Announcing the initiative, Executive Director Molly Hamer commented that each of the projects represent long-term investments that will benefit Northbrook for decades.
The Park District does not anticipate putting the proposed investments to a referendum. Instead it will issue bonds and use reserve funds to pay for the improvements. An open house to provide further details and share information on how residents can be involved is anticipated in the spring. The District anticipates the projects, which will be staggered over the next few years, will be completed in 2022.
Sportsman’s Golf Course
The CIP also addresses improvements to the Park District’s golf operations, including renovations to the Sportsman’s clubhouse, an expanded driving range, improvements to the courses and new cart storage.
Late last year Park District Commissioners reviewed suggestions made by consultants who completed a market study that included research on the banquet facilities at Sportsman’s. The Board rejected the concept of adding any large scale banquet space to the golf operations, due to the significant number of hotels and golf clubs in the area with event space. However, the Commissioners did indicate an interest in moving the driving range and building an indoor academy as suggested in the consultant’s report.
The report found a strong, stable and mature golf market in Northbrook with the potential to increase golf rounds to 60 – 65,000 rounds a year from the recent 57,500 rounds a year. Of all the facilities/amenities rated in a survey taken by the consultants, Sportsman’s was ranked as one of the top priorities for investment.