Mon September 20, 2021
Located on Walnut Avenue south of Ogden Avenue on the northwest corridor of Downers Grove, the Walnut Park property is easily accessible by I-355 and I-88. Acquired through two past land purchases--4.8 acres in 2008 and 14.8 acres in 2015--the Walnut Park property currently features one soccer field and a small picnic pavilion with a gravel parking lot. The site is mostly undeveloped land featuring a mowed path, which connects to the Belmont Prairie Buffer and Nature Preserve.
Over the last decade, Downers Grove Park District has gathered input from the community regarding the development of this site. Community feedback has been collected through a needs assessment (2017), public open house (2017), stakeholder interviews (2017) and focus group discussions (2013). This past input indicated a high demand for an indoor sports facility featuring artificial turf and other recreation amenities.
In 2020, the Downers Grove Park District began work on a long-term master plan for the Walnut Park property. The process kicked off with a community-wide survey, which was conducted in December. This survey indicated a high desire for the following amenities: Walking & Biking Trails, Multi-purpose Space, Sports Training & Performance Space, 100x60 Yard Synthetic Turf, Tennis Courts, a Playground and Dog Park. The District is also committed to preserving and protecting the natural areas adjacent to the Belmont Prairie and buffer by providing new nature-based education opportunities at the request of community members.
On Sept. 16, 2021, District staff presented a draft preview for the long-term master plan with conceptual drawings to the community and the Board of Commissioners at a public Board Workshop. The presentation was live streamed through Zoom and is now available online for viewing.
The District hosted three open houses in 2021 (Sept. 28, Oct. 6 and Oct. 9) for residents to preview the long-term master plan and conceptual drawings proposed for Walnut Park. District staff were available for questions, welcomed feedback and gathered additional ideas from the community. Staff also provided a site walkthrough for those interested. Feedback forms were available for visitors to complete following the presentation.
Since the beginning of 2021, the Downers Grove Park District has worked with the design team at Wight & Company to create conceptual design plans for the site at no cost to the District. These initial renderings and site plans will help the community to envision the future of the site and possible amenities it could offer.
The initial proposal incorporates a majority of the recommended and desired indoor and outdoor recreation amenities as well as nature-based recreation opportunities, including an interpretive pavilion. Additional native landscaping would complement Belmont Prairie and provide a sound buffer and privacy for the homes of nearby residents.
The District anticipates the long-term master plan for the Walnut Park property to be implemented over numerous years and a series of phases.
Community input is a vital component in developing new recreation amenities to meet the current and future needs and desires of residents living in Downers Grove. The Park District invites the community to attend an upcoming Plan Your Park Open House to preview the concepts and give feedback as we continue the long-term master planning process for the Walnut Park property.