Wilmette residents voice concerns over Rocky Miller Park construction


Daily file photo by Alex Putterman

Construction work on the Wildcats’ baseball field is underway at the corner of Ashland Avenue and Isabella Street. Wilmette residents have recently raised issues about Evanston and Northwestern not doing an adequate job of informing neighbors about Rocky Miller Park renovations.

Paige Leskin, City Editor

The renovations to the Wildcats’ baseball stadium have not been a welcome change to nearby Wilmette residents, who feel that they haven’t been kept informed on the progress of the construction.

Rocky Miller Park, located on the corner of Ashland Avenue and Isabella Street, lies at the border of Evanston and Wilmette. Although the park lies within Evanston’s boundaries, its construction directly impacts the lives of Wilmette neighbors, village manager Tim Frenzer said.

“They had not been advised as to what’s going on,” he said. “The first inkling the neighbors had of what was going on was when the bulldozers were working.”

Frenzer said he and village president Bob Bielinski only found out about the construction when Ald. Jane Grover (7th) told them. However, the city itself had not extended the same kind of information to Wilmette residents, and the park’s project began before they even knew what the plans were, Frenzer said.

In a letter to Northwestern, Bielinski asked the school to keep all neighbors aware of any future renovations. The University issued an apology to Wilmette residents and promised to better inform the community, Frenzer said.

“From the feedback we have received, it appears (our work) was not sufficiently communicated to those in the surrounding area,” the statement said. “Moving forward we will proactively communicate the road ahead as we work to improve and beautify the ballpark and the surrounding area.”

The University first announced the renovations in June 2013, following a $5 million donation from Richard and Roxy Pepper. The planned upgrades include a new clubhouse and seats, as well as artificial turf to replace the grass.

Wilmette residents want to be more included moving forward, so they can provide greater input when it comes to potential problems, including frequency of field use and nighttime lighting, Frenzer said.

“Both the city and the school have committed to making sure that all the neighbors in the area have a notice of future public meetings and discussions of what will be going on at the park,” he said. “Our only interest here is making sure that the neighbors are fully informed and have … an opportunity to have their concerns heard and addressed.”

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Twitter: @paigeleskin