Proposed improvements at Evergreen Park in Kane were discussed Thursday evening at a community meeting at the Kane Community Center on Fraley Street.
About a dozen residents attended the 75-minute meeting. Dick Bly, chairman of the "Friends of Evergreen Park" group, presided.
Kane Borough Council President Howard Kane and Councilmen Harold Hallberg and Dennis Drost represented the borough at the forum.
"I thought it was a good meeting," Bly said. "We want to have a good working relationship with council."
Bly said he expects more Kane residents will attend future meetings to provide their input on park improvements.
The "Friends of Evergreen Park" formed about two years ago when the Kane Borough Council announced plans to demolish the "Enchanted Playland" at the park.
The "Friends" group held several "work bees" to repair the wooden playground, which apparently has been spared.
As the group worked to repair the playground, the volunteers "came up with other ideas for the park," Bly said. He said the "Friends" group is "interested in the entire park," not just the playground.
During the meeting Thursday, Bly outlined a proposed three-year plan for improvements at the park.
The proposals are part of a "wish list."
"Nothing is set in stone," Bly said.
Under the plan, the first-year improvements include:
*Continued maintenance of the "Playland."
*Construction of a concrete walkway on the Birch Street and Park Avenue sides on the park using about $42,000 in federal community-development block grant (CDBG) money. These funds previously were allocated for the demolition of the "Playland" and the installation of traditional playground equipment.
*Construction of a combination gazebo and outdoor theatre. This proposed project calls for using $10,000 in CDBG funds.
*Painting of the fences around the tennis courts and basketball court.
*Planting wildflowers in conjunction with the Kane Garden Club.
*Repair of the bleachers at the T-ball field.
Bly said it would be "ideal" to have a sidewalk around the park. However, Kane and Drost both questioned the need for the proposed perimeter sidewalk.
Kane said the proposed sidewalk "doesn't give access to the center of the park." He suggested constructing a less-expensive limestone path instead of a concrete sidewalk along Birch Street and Park Avenue.
Kane said handicapped persons already are allowed to ride in vehicles on narrow dirt roads to gain access to certain sites in the park. Drost said a better plan would be to add concrete pads to make certain areas of the park more accessible to persons confined to wheelchairs.
Drost said council needs to be "very careful" on the use of CDBG funds because the time is coming when the borough may receive "very little or none." Because the borough's population has fallen below 4,000, Kane now must compete with other municipalities for a piece of the CDBG funds allocated to the county.
In previous years, Kane automatically qualified for its own pot of CDBG money.
Drost also is concerned about the borough's responsibility for maintaining a proposed paved sidewalk along Birch Street and Park Avenue.
See full article by purchasing the March 2 edition of The Kane Republican.