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Park District Moves Forward on Kelly Park Renovation

Commissioners approve plan to eliminate construction of new bathrooms and plan to re-open bids for some projects.

In an effort to bring renovations to Kelly Park back under budget, the Wheaton Park District supported a measure to remove restrooms from the proposed east and west shelters, shaving about $150,000 off the price tag.

During their November meeting, commissioners by Commissioners Phil Luetkehans and John Kelly to reach an agreement with Edison Middle School to keep their restrooms open. The district also opted to re-open bids for construction costs for the park after previous bids came in too high. The , about 26 percent above the expected price tag of $754,000.

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The park district began planning the project after receiving a $754,000 state grant from the Open Space Lands Acquisition Development (OSLAD) Grant Program in 2010. The grant program provides for a 50 percent reimbursement for the park district’s work and after initial reductions to the project’s scope, the grant amount was reduced to $714,500.

Some residents spoke out against the proposed renovations. Sue Kirby called the proposed renovations an unnecessary use of tax dollars. Kirby, who has been a vocal opponent of the renovations at many park district meetings, urged the board to reject the grant money for renovations. She said her vision of the park is one of beautiful open spaces.

Last year residents concerned with the Wheaton Park District's plans for renovations to Kelly Park, launched the "Friends of Kelly Park" website to alert neighbors to concerns for how the changes to the park could affect the neighborhood.

Commissioners also tabled discussing bids for shelters and a new ice rink. Hargrave Builders, Inc. bid $89,900 for new shelters and FBG Corporation bid $217,000 for the ice rink. According to a memo, staff recommended the board approve the bids. 

Kim VanderSchaaf opposed the ice rink and said the district erects an ice rink at the park each year for a cost of about $3,000. She said maintaining a temporary structure is more economical than the proposed rink.

In a letter to the board of commissioners, Wheaton resident and neighbor of Kelly Park, Jason Christensen wrote that the new rink would change the dynamic of the park by bringing in more competitive ice sports.

“A new rink would change this dynamic and skating would become much more competitive not allowing for causal neighborhood skating,” Christensen wrote.  

In the spring of 2010 the park district approved a plan for the park, which included an indoor "shelter" restroom area, a water spray feature, multi-sport courts, a half court basketball area—which would be used as a skating rink in the winter, and bike parking. The original plan for Kelly Park included angled parking along Main Street, but residents were concerned the parking would increase traffic. The park district then proposed a plan that included a parking lot within the park itself, but that was not well received because the plan would reduce green space. 

Park District Executive Director Mike Benard said the commissioners discuss the bids again at the December board meeting.

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