It won’t be getting extra lights, but West Park will be getting synthetic turf when it gets rebuilt after becoming home to a multi-million gallon underground holding tank for sanitary sewer overflow, part of Wilmette’s ongoing flood control efforts for the west end of town.
With that and a few other issues clarified, a final deal between the village and the Wilmette Park District to put the tank under West Park should be ready by September. Wilmette plans a fall start date on construction for the project, which village engineers now believe will cost up to $18.1 million, including park restoration.
Wilmette Park District director Steve Wilson confirmed July 10 that Wilmette has agreed to replace the park’s existing natural playing field surfaces with synthetic turf that will require less long-term maintenance.
That, and agreements on new and replacement fencing around playfields and baseball diamonds, came after several months of negotiations between the two governments.
“Their attorneys and our attorneys are working out the details,” he said. “Everything has been very positive. We expect [the agreement] to be done and in place by the time of our August  board meeting.”
The Village Board should be able to sign off on the intergovernmental agreement before the end of August as well; it has an August 26 board meeting.
Word on the final intergovernmental pact, including the village’s agreement on the turf replacement, was part of a June 30 report to village trustees from Engineering Director Brigitte Berger.
Trustees had the report in hand July 8, when they approved a $226,134 contract with Wheaton-based RJN Group, allowing that company to complete preliminary design plans for excavation and site work, and to complete about 40 percent of design work on the tank itself, as well as its connected pump station and mechanical equipment.
Once those preliminary designs are complete, Wilmette can negotiate a final “design-build” contract to kick off construction in the fall.
Putting an underground tank capable of storing between 5 million and 5.5 million gallons of sanitary sewer overflow at West Park, which lies near the Wilmette-Glenview border, is integral to the village’s west Wilmette flood control plan. Village officials believe it will minimize sanitary sewer basement backups in around 1,300 homes west of Ridge Avenue.
Village Board members had already inked a conceptual agreement with the park district in February, deciding that Wilmette would choose project engineers and the park district would choose consultants to plan park restoration. Park district officials later estimated that rebuilding could potentially cost up to $1.55 million. That price included the synthetic playfield surfaces.
West Park now has a baseball field and other playfields. And is home to the new platform tennis operation. Conceptual plans for the storage tank call for it to be placed in the park’s northeast quadrant, which would take the baseball field out of commission for as long as the construction project was underway.
Wilson said final negotiations on restoration did not include extra or upgraded lighting for West Park: “Early on in the discussions we took lighting out of the picture.”
When they met again in committee sessions last month, village trustees gave the nod to Berger’s construction schedule and other details.