- By Dan Veaner
"I was pleasantly surprised on Friday, since, watching a bulldozer doing some of the clearing a couple of weeks ago, I was wondering who was going to do what there," said Northwoods resident Mark Norman Adelewitz. "I was hoping it wasn't another apartment complex."
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What appears to be a long strip of wooded land starting at the eastern border at Warren Road is actually three properties. The Village plot is in the middle, surrounded by two privately owned properties. Hardaway displayed a rough preliminary plan showing a trail originating at Dart Drive that will lead to a semi-circular trail in the northeast corner of the property. The semi-circle will define the park itself, with the rest of the property let in its natural state.
"We would like to have a multi-purpose sports field very similar to the one at Dankert Park, "Hardaway said. "We're looking at a basketball court, a children's playground and a covered pavilion. We suspect the sports field will probably be laid out in the northwest part of the park, because that is the flattest area. it will be the easiest place to clear trees. There is a stand of very small ash trees that will come down because of the ash borer threat that is coming down the road."
15 to 20 parking spaces are planned for the south side of Northwoods Drive, at the park border. The final number of spaces will depend on the locations of trees after dead or unwanted ones are removed. Officials are talking about putting a community build playground in the park. The municipality saves money and community members have more 'buy-in' to the park when volunteers participate in raising money for and building the playground under the supervision of companies that specialize in designing them.
Residents expressed concerns about keeping the area as natural as possible, providing an educational experience as well as recreational. They asked about traffic impacts, access to existing trails, and Adelewitz suggested including a dog park in the project.
Hardaway stressed as many trees as possible will be spared, using existing spaces to place park equipment.
"There will be islands of trees and islands of space," he said. "We will put the park facilities in and around them. In walking through there are good places for flat areas for equipment, or just picnics or whatever. It's a nice blend of trees and open space. We're leaving a lot of the property in its natural state. Trails will be cut through. The rest of it will be pretty much left alone unless we have to do maintenance for safety concerns."
Hardaway said the ownership status of Northwoods Drive would determine the timeline. The Village has been negotiating with the owners to take over the road. the process has stretched over years, and while Mayor Donald Hartill says they are close to an agreement, the Village does not currently own the road.
When the agreement is completed there are plans to strengthen and widen the road, which would make it accessible for heavy equipment needed to build the park. Hardaway said Village officials are hoping to get the infrastructure laid out, flattening the ball field area and defining other areas this summer, and that the pavilion, basketball court and sports field will be installed next year.
"The ownership of this road is going to determine a lot of it," he said. "We're hoping this year we'll basically get the infrastructure laid down for these facilities. In other words, the ground is leveled for a field, and next year start laying in an actual field, basketball court, covered pavilion, and a potential playground."