The Athletic Field on North Street in Geneseo is about to receive a face lift.

The Athletic Field on North Street in Geneseo is about to receive a face lift.

The Geneseo Park District board has developed a master plan, which was approved in June, and will include a renovation to the Athletic Field, which will convert it into a fitness oriented and family friendly area.

The project is projected to begin in the summer of 2013.

The plan is the result of community responses to surveys conducted by the park district in 2011 and 2012.

“Through the surveys, we learned the value of the park district to the community is higher than the state and national level. People are very satisfied,” said Geneseo Park District executive director Molly Hamer. “We asked the community what they wanted and what they were willing to support.”

Along with the community surveys, stakeholders were interviewed, three public meetings were held and an advisory committee was formed.

“We learned the No. 1 thing people wanted was a walking path,” said Hamer. “The Athletic Field is a highly used area, but the conditions were rated between good and poor. We bought the area from the school district in 2000, but we have just maintained the area without any renovations.”

From meeting with members of the community, the staff at the park district also learned that its members were satisfied, but the non-members wanted more.

“The development of the Athletic Field provides something for everyone to use and will be a fun and safe place for the whole family,” said Hamer. “The elements of the renovation are in response to the survey results we received. This area will showcase a design that is based on community fitness and is for people of all ages.”

The new Athletic Field will feature a resurfaced track, walking paths that connects with the community center, four fitness zones on the four corners of the track, a fitness-based playground and a splash pad.

The tennis courts also will be resurfaced and moved; and two half-basketball courts, along with an in-line hockey area will be added.

The renovations will include an area for ice skating, a soccer field, native landscaping with a children’s garden and interactive music play and bag toss and table tennis areas. Open space will be maintained for unstructured play.
Hamer said the park hours will tentatively be from dawn to dusk and the area will be free to use.

“We had an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) audit performed on all the park district’s facilities,” said Hamer. “The new facility design at the Athletic Field will meet state and federal guidelines of accessibility.”

The football field, which is used for Geneseo Youth Football games and Geneseo Middle School games, will remain as is.

“We are working with Geneseo Youth Football and will continue to work with them,”?said Hamer. “We also are working with the city to make a connection from Spring Street to the parking lot that will be located at the north end of the facility. We are planning for 100 parking spots. Letters were sent to households in the neighborhood including information and a conceptual plan of the proposed Athletic Field improvements.

“The total cost of the project is approximately $2 million dollars. The funding for this project will come from a bond the park district will issue. In addition, the district has applied for an OSLAD (Open Space Land Acquisition and Development) grant from the State of Illinois to offset the cost of the project,” said Hamer. “We have two previously issued bonds that will be paid off in 2012 and 2013, therefore, residents’ tax rates will not be affected by the construction of the park. We have always been, and continue to be conservative in our plans. We do things in a way that meets the needs of the community.

“The community said they wanted it, and the park district board and staff are really excited. It is within the mission of the park district and will benefit everyone,” said Hamer.