By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
Neighbors concerned with a proposed new community center at Bott Park made their way to a special community meeting on Aug. 30, hoping to have their voices heard.
The Plainfield Park District hosted a special community forum for residents, after concerns over the planned expansion slowed the process to approve the park district’s special use permit approved by the village.
The biggest concern for neighbors in the Renwick Road corridor: Traffic.
Representatives from the park district didn’t have exact estimates for how many people would be in and out of the new building every day, but said they expect use to vary based on time of day, time of year, and enrollment in classes.
“Gymnasium time is going to vary depending what season it is and what activities are going on,” said Park District Executive Director Carlo J. Capalbo. “Traditionally, from other facilities, you’re looking at the middle part of your day, gymnasium usage is very light. During the core of the day, from roughly 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., the bulk of your usage is preschool or classroom type settings. In the evening, you’re looking at fitness and multi-purpose… We’ve gone with our capacity number from our traffic study to get more of an idea of what we anticipate for cars.”
The traffic study was completed last week, but the district and village have not completed the process of digging though that study to see exactly what it means for traffic.
In August, the village board delayed a vote on approval of the special use permit for the new center until the traffic study was complete.
Residents are worried about additional traffic, arguing that folks already drive too fast and too erratically down Renwick Road. Nearby residents are concerned that adding more traffic headed into the community center could be dangerous.
“You could be t-boned at any point in time down there at River and Renwick, and to use the bike path there, nobody stops ever,” one neighbor said during a Q-and-A session with the park district. “So now we’re just going to bring in more traffic. How are they determining the traffic?”
The park district said the traffic study targeted specific dates and times, and do not anticipate a large amount of additional traffic to the site, but the study still needs to be evaluated fully. Any traffic calming issues would be up to the village to implement, not the park district.
Residents also questioned why the district wants to use Bott Park, versus Four Seasons Park.
“Part of the reason is that this is a central location. Four Seasons, while on the eastern side, is not centralized,” Capalbo said. “Additionally, this already had some utility basis built into it… we had stubbing built into the street [for water], whereas, right now, Four Seasons is within the village’s whole comprehensive plan, it is not within the village’s premises. So, there would have to be more infrastructure.”
Capalbo added that there is uncertainty around Four Seasons as the state considers a long term I-55 expansion project. That project, to upgrade or add new interstate access, is still only in its infancy.
Capalbo added that Bott Park was selected as the site for a new community center when the park district first began looking at possibilities for expansion back in 1996.
The park district expansion was approved in 2016 by voters, who approved the issuance of bonds in the amount of $10.5 million, replacing expiring referendum bonds from 2001. That approval gave the park district the go-ahead to move forward on lighting projects, capital improvements, and the new rec center.
The project includes a 37,579-square foot recreation facility, with a total budget of $7 million.
The site plan includes a total of 106 parking spaces, a dry-bottom storm water retention area, landscaping, and lighting.
The park district hopes to break ground in 2018.