Community gathers to provide feedback about park renovations

Jennifer Ball, Assistant City Editor

Community members gave feedback Wednesday about projected renovations to Evanston’s Baker Park, which currently has 20-year-old equipment.

About 40 people attended the meeting at Lincoln Elementary School, 910 Forest Ave., hosted by Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) and the city’s Public Works Department. Community members discussed their ideas for the park, located in south Evanston at Keeney Street and Forest Avenue. The location is scheduled for renovations to begin in 2015.

Stefanie Levine, the park’s senior project manager, asked the community whether the new concept should be imaginative or traditional.

The conceptual designs include a new park with basketball courts and a new building to accommodate summer camps and serve as a voting station. The designs also incorporated a community garden and baseball fields.

Two potential design options for the renovations were presented at the meeting. The first design had a projected cost of about $550,000 in total, and the second of about $580,000. The audience seemed split on their preferred design, Levine said.

The new equipment will be geared toward children ages 2 to 5 and older children ages 5 to 12. The park is located near Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood and near the elementary school where the meeting was held.

The Wednesday meeting followed similar talks that occurred in July between the community and city officials about potential park renovations.

Residents addressed several issues during the meeting, including whether the newly built basketball courts should be placed near the street or in the interior of the park. There was no consensus on the location of the basketball courts at the end of the event.

Another attendee brought up the necessity to conserve trees, saying they provide shade for children to play comfortably.

Some community members wanted an area for adults to spend time. However, Levine said at a meeting in June parents primarily presented concerns about their small children.

Other community members expressed concern about whether or not their opinions would be taken into consideration in regard to the final renovations. Future meetings are planned to welcome more community input on the concept designs.

“This is not a mathematical system,” Levine said.

Despite community input, no water fixtures will be added, Levine said. Clear basketball backboards will also not be built due to cost, she said.

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Twitter: @jennifercball