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Elgin to begin work this year on Jack E. Cook regional park

Updated: May 24, 2013 6:15AM

ELGIN — The city is set to move forward with the bid process and into the construction phase this year for a long-in-the-works park on Elgin’s far western outskirts.

The site is now called Jack E. Cook Regional Park and is on Plank Road just north of Muirhead Road. It is named after the former Kane County Board member and president of the county forest preserve commission. Cook, a longtime east-side Elgin resident, died in February 2011 at age 86.

According to supporting material for Wednesday’s city council meeting, the city purchased the 224 acres in June 2005 for $4.3 million. In 2007, the forest district contributed $1.8 million to the city in return for Elgin selling about 93 acres of the park to the district. In turn, the district licensed that 93-acre section to Elgin for a 99-year term.

Later in 2007, the city obtained a $750,000 land acquisition grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to further offset the purchase cost for the park land.

The city applied to the IDNR in 2011 for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant to defray the park site’s development expenses. The $400,000 OSLAD grant requires the city to begin improvements in 2013. Costs for the first phase of improvements are estimated at $943,000.

That work would focus on 20 acres and create an entry road, parking lot, two soccer fields, tennis court, basketball court, playground, baseball field, rain garden and extra landscaping.

Last summer, Elgin hired the Chicago office of SmithGroupJJR for the design and engineering phases of this initial project at a cost of $60,000. On Wednesday night, the city council will consider paying that firm an additional $24,000 for project bidding, construction observation and administration services.

The terms of the two IDNR grants require the city to begin developing the park. Should Elgin decline to comply with the first IDNR grant’s development requirements, the city will be required to reimburse the state for the $750,000 in grant proceeds it has received. The city will receive the $400,000 IDNR OSLAD grant once the park’s first phase of development is completed.

Parks and Recreation Director Randy Reopelle said Monday that the bidding process will take place in May. If all goes well, hard surfaces should be in place this year. However, the tennis and basketball courts, as well as the baseball field, won’t be ready for use until the second half of 2014. To allow the sod to mature, the soccer fields would not open until the spring of 2015, Reopelle said.

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