By Bob Balgemann


One of the goals of many village officials has been to increase the number of residential parks for the community.

They have been discussing such a park in the West Grove neighborhood and, after action by the village board Monday, Dec. 19, they are moving that way.

Residents provided direction for development of the park through a recent survey, in which they told the village what they would like to see in their area. There were 64 responses and 73 percent of them established playground equipment as the No. 1 priority among amenities.

The ranking went on from there to include walking paths and trails at No. 2; a splash pad, No. 3; a gazebo/pavilion near the splash pad, No. 4; baseball diamond, No. 5; soccer field, No. 6; exercise equipment, No. 7; hockey rink, No. 8; and softball facility, No. 9.

Question No. 2 was: when planning for West Grove, what is the most important consideration?

The top answer was age-appropriate facilities followed by aesthetics and the cost of equipment and diversification between the other neighborhood parks.

Third, it was pointed out that funding such improvements can be challenging. Residents were asked if they would be willing to participate in fund-raisers to help build West Grove Park. Forty-four replied, “yes;” 19 said, “no,” and one skipped that question.

Finally, residents were asked how many times they and their families visited a public park. Thirty-seven responded they visited a park 11 or more times; 16 said they did so 6-10 times; and 10 replied 0-5 times.

Among the comments accompanying the survey were:

“Hope this becomes a reality; project is long overdue; who’s payin’ for it?; looks classy, not trashy; wonderful idea, look forward to working with the village on it; dog area would be nice; and no parks in Poplar Grove with toddler swings.”

One family said they were thinking about moving out of Poplar Grove. But developing parkland would “definitely” make them reconsider that possibility.

The village board voted Monday, Dec. 19 to spend up to $15,000 for playground equipment. A more formalized quote is being requested that would include delivery costs. Also, the committee of the whole that deals with financial issues will discuss installation of the equipment at its next meeting.

It also has been agreed to have the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning (RMAP) plan the park. RMAP also will do planning for a dog park, which is an Eagle Scout project and may be located across Hill Street from village hall.

Village Administrator Diana Dykstra said the capital improvements plan already has $15,000 in it for planning the West Grove Park. Since that now is going toward equipment, planning will be expensed to the general fund planning and engineering budget line items.

She said she spoke with one vendor who stated there would be a four to six week lag time for delivery, which she added isn’t very long. Freight cost would be $1,500 to $2,000, she said, with installation being done by that company. But installation typically runs 20 to 30 percent of the overall price, prompting the additional discussion and possibility that village workers will put in the equipment.

A similar piece of playground equipment was installed in 2015 in Lions Park, through a partnership between the club and the village.







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