Governor J.B. Pritzker announced yesterday that the Skokie Park District’s Laramie Park will receive one of 89 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants, totaling $28.9 million statewide.
Laramie Park redevelopment has been in the planning stages since 2018. The Skokie Park District will be required to match or better the $400,000 state grant, making it a more than $800,000 project.
“Investments in Illinois’ local parks makes it easier for families and recreation enthusiasts to enjoy our state’s beauty and help their communities thrive,” said Pritzker. “Parks projects will also create jobs, providing a boost to local economic development efforts in dozens of communities and spurring additional investment throughout the state.”
As part of the district’s five-year master plan, planning for the 2019-20 redevelopment of Laramie Park began at a September 13, 2018, public hearing, where the district’s board of commissioners received valuable resident input and also unveiled professional concepts for the project.
Conceptual designs unveiled at the meeting featured a large wish list including: a new playground with separate sections for younger and older children; a family fun area with an outdoor ping pong table and baggo games; a gazebo/shelter with picnic tables, litter receptacles, and benches; fitness stations; pickleball courts; a small splash pad; a new loop path around the park; additional parking; a rain garden; synthetic turf for the west diamond infield; and new backstops and dugouts.
After reviewing the ideas, citizen’s comments included: lighting the east ballfield; additional security lighting; concerns regarding additional parking overwhelming the park; and the possibility of adding a small dog park, a small concession shed, and an announcers box. Residents also expressed concerns regarding drainage structure, the expense of synthetic turf, and splash pad maintenance.
According to executive director John Ohrlund, additional public input will be heard before finalizing the plan, with construction beginning in late 2019 or early 2020.