Algonquin approves 10-year parks master plan

‘What we’re really trying to do is align our parks and rec offerings with what residents expect,’ assistant village manager says

A man jogs past the bird and butterfly sanctuary Wednesday at Gaslight Park in Algonquin. The village has received a conservation award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the sanctuary.

It takes quite an effort to keep tabs on Algonquin’s 554 acres of natural areas, 174 acres of developed parks and 22 miles of trails.

With that in mind, it was time for the village to update its 10-year master plan for parks and recreation. The village board recently approved projects that will be spread out over the next decade, starting with the completion of some projects this spring and summer.

The village hired Hitchcock Design Group to assist with the plan that was developed over time starting in late 2019. Over the last several months, the village hosted workshops and conducted mail-in and online surveys with residents to ensure public input was represented along with the opinions of the village board and staff.

“Our community highly values park and recreation services, which adds to the high quality of life our residents have become accustomed to and expect in Algonquin,” Village President Debby Sosine said. “This plan sets the policy vision for these services that is consistent with resident input over the next 10 years.”

Algonquin Assistant Village Manager Michael Kumbera said that while no overall cost has been placed on the plan, in recent years the village has been awarded $3.1 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program. He said the village continues to be active in seeking grants for the future.

Among the projects recommended for the current budget is a redevelopment of Towne Park, one of the village’s most visited parks and the site of summer concerts.

The village also plans to replace the tennis courts at Gaslight Park and the play equipment at Hill Climb Park, in addition to completing design work for the restoration of open space at Woods Creek.

“What we’re really trying to do is align our parks and rec offerings with what residents expect and what the consumer demand is,” Kumbera said. “It’s a service-oriented industry. It’s trends. Things change. This process really helped us prioritize what we’re planning. We’re excited to get moving forward on it.”