Skokie Playfield Master Plan
Skokie Playfield Web Camera Link
View the progress of the field work at Skokie Playfield through the time lapse photos.
Residents or interested patrons may also download the OxBlue App to view on your Apple devices. Use "nicholasassoc/winnetka" to open link.
Quick update as of 9/6/13
Nearing project completion . . .
- Driving Range scheduled to open on Friday, September 20, 5 pm.
- South bike path extension work is complete.
- Entire site has been seeded.
- New pump station has been installed.
Skokie Playfield Master Plan 2012-13 Construction
- Stormwater Management / Ball Field Configuration - COMPLETED (grown-in on natural turf on-going)
- Skokie Playfield Service Center Improvements/Upgrades - ONGOING
- A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center Improvements - COMPLETED
- Parking Lot Improvements - COMPLETED
SPMP Phase I & II FAQ's
What are the results to date of the Winnetka Park District planning and the Village of Winnetka approval process for Skokie Playfield? The process has considered several principle areas of concern during the planning and approval of this project by the Park District Board and Staff, the planning team of Gewalt Hamilton and the Lakota Group. These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) are centered on these principles.
SPMP Phase I & II FAQ's (pdf format)
How will the improvements specified in the Skokie Playfield Master Plan be funded?
At this time we estimate the total project will cost $10 million. Of that, $3million+ is stormwater management and $2million+ is Ball Field work. This $5 million+ comes from a 2011 revenue bond that will be repaid over 20 years from WPD operating income. $2.7 million is planned for the Tennis Center improvement and parking lot. Those funds are either now in reserve and/or will come from user fees. Lastly, the Golf maintenance Center rebuilding and the new parking area there will cost about $1.5MM over 5 years. Much of this is already in reserve with the remainder being paid for from Winnetka Park District funds generated annually resulting from strong financial management practices.
Will the project increase my taxes?
Taxes will not be increased to complete these improvements. All costs for the project are funded using a combination of cash reserves from the tennis enterprise fund, Revenue Bonds supported by the strength of the tennis and ball field operations, and cash reserves that have been generated over the last several years.
Are WPD operating costs lower with turf?
The operating costs for artificial turf are significantly less than maintaining natural turf. Studies conducted on our existing maintenance programs indicate that artificial turf fields would be one tenth the cost for supporting the same field areas if they are natural turf.
What are some of the stormwater management solutions that were considered in the planning of the playfield?
In April 2011, the Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners ranked stormwater management as one of the most important issues that needed to be addressed when considering the renovation of the Skokie Playfield. Several solutions were considered during the planning of the project and input was sought from both the Village and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The Park District chose to implement a plan that exceeded the requirements of the both the Village and MWRD. In addition, the Park District has chosen to construct stormwater storage now for the ultimate development envisioned in the Skokie Playfield Master Plan. A total of 8.7 acre-feet, or more than 2.8 million gallons, of new storage will be created with the project. To accomplish this goal, three primary solutions have been scheduled to be completed: 1) Bio-swales designed to capture and hold water will be created beyond the outfield areas of the ball diamonds; 2) An underground storage vault will be constructed under the artificial turf surface to collect and slowly release water to the Skokie River; and, 3) The golf course driving range will be re-graded to serve as a holding cell for excess water. The storage capacity will be nearly 6 times greater than that required by the Village. Additionally, we look forward to working with Cook County Forest Preserve District to retain water on their property and to have more timely release of WPD retained water into the Skokie Lagoons and Skokie River (which is entirely in their control).
Will the park improvements lessen flooding in the neighborhood?
The Park District is continuing to cooperate and coordinate with the Village on their master stormwater management plan and have proposed providing nearly six times the volume of stormwater storage in the redeveloped park than what is required by the MWRD and Village code. In addition, the Park District has identified other areas of the property, outside of the current improvement zone, which could some day be used for additional stormwater storage. Ultimately, however, a meaningful reduction in flooding in the neighborhood will require a Village wide improvement such as the tunnel project to Lake Michigan the Village is currently studying. While the Park improvements will provide a demonstrable benefit to the neighborhood, they are only a first step in a long range improvement plan.
Will the stormwater management plans developed from the improvements stop flooding on the playfield?
No. The playfield lie within the floodplain of the Skokie River and will still flood from time to time; however, the improvements include grading, drainage and stormwater storage improvements intended to reduce the frequency and duration of the flooding. Also the playfield will be graded in a manner so that the heavy play zones (infields and synthetic turf areas) are slightly higher than other portions of the park (driving range, outfields, foul areas, etc.) so that they are the last areas to be inundated and the first to dry out. These park improvements and newly created excess storage will lessen the likelihood of flooding in the neighborhood.
How will the trees that are being kept be protected during construction?
All trees on the property to be protected will be coordinated with the Village Forester and at a minimum meet the Village's Tree Protection Ordinance. These standards include both base (drip line or crown protection of critical root zones) and vertical tree trunk structure protection. In addition to continuous tree drip line fencing around all protected root zone/canopy areas, critical root zones will be mulched to protect any unforeseen compaction. Tree trunks in perimeter or individual locations will also be planked with vertical boards to protect bark damage.
Village Forestry and Park District staff will regularly monitor tree health and provide any necessary supplemental care, pruning or watering needed during the construction period.
Will existing tree regulations be impacted by the construction?
Existing trees will be impacted but in a positive way. Scrub trees and dying Ash trees will be removed and replaced with higher quality species. Healthy trees that impede site changes will be transplanted in new locations.
Are “green” infrastructure improvements included in the plan?
The Park District is committed to incorporating best management practices or “green” infrastructure in redeveloping the Play Fields. Interspersed throughout the park, bio-swales will be introduced and planted with deep-rooted native plants which will help absorb, filter, and clean stormwater as it is conveyed through the site. In addition, the underground stormwater detention system will double as a water storage system during periods of drought to supplement the irrigation system for the golf course and play fields. Further, the Tennis Center and Service Center parking lots are considering LED lighting which would use a fraction of the energy traditional lighting systems require. The lights will also be designed in a manner to ensure the light is directed downward and therefore do not contribute to light pollution. Lastly, the staff is researching the use of geothermal systems to heat and cool the Nielsen Center and will pursue Clean Energy grants to offset the costs.
Why can’t you collect water in that stand of dead trees by the par 3?
There are two possible ideas under consideration for this area. This area is a potential water storage area if the planning for the “deep tunnel” under Willow Road cannot be realized by the Village. Another plan under consideration involves creating a sled hill in this area and will allow the park district to create a new winter programming area with sledding and outdoor and indoor ice. The soils from the range will be transported to help construct the hill. The Ice Arena and the Golf Clubhouse can be used for restroom facilities and refreshments. Most all the trees in this area are diseased Ash trees or undesirable species as determined by the Village Forester.
How much new impermeable surface will each component of the project create?
Including the expanded Tennis Center, synthetic turf field, new patios and new pathways, a total of 3.6 acres of new impermeable surface will be created with the currently proposed improvements.
Health and Safety
Is it true that synthetic turf creates higher temperatures which can impact players during use?
In Winnetka there may be a few stretches in the summer where people will need to make adjustments for play on synthetic turf, but for the majority of the year it does not pose a problem. People are asked to take a practical approach to the heat. Dr. Andy McNitt, head of the Penn State Center for Sports Surface Research, advises trainers to be aware of the heat when practicing in the summer on clear days. He recommends cutting down some on practice times, considering pulling players off fields earlier and taking more breaks to cool down. “The ambient air temperature above both surfaces differed by only 3 degrees F at 12” above the surface and approximately 2 degrees F at 39” above the surface. WPD staff has and will continue to implement and encourage other user groups to promote the safe “hydration” of all athletes, and camp participants during periods when temperatures are high.
Is it true that synthetic turf can harbor diseases?
No, this is not true. Infilled synthetic turf systems do not harbor significant populations of staph bacteria or other infectious diseases to warrant concern.”
Is the rubber infill used on synthetic turf harmful to athletes or other users and all ages?
Lead Concerns. Synthetic turf fields are safe to install and play on for people of all ages. Evidence shows that young children are not at risk from exposure to lead in synthetic turf fields.
What is the difference in the occurrence of injuries on turf versus grass?
Based on the available evidence, it appears that the potential and risk for injury is not increased for athletes playing on 3rd generation artificial turf fields compared to grass fields. The potential for head or lower limb injury is low and similar between turf and grass fields. Research indicates that the newer surfaces do not increase injury risk for football or soccer players. In fact, some studies raise the possibility that the risk of some types of injury might actually be reduced. Clearly the new surfaces are softer, provide more “give” than the older AstroTurf fields and may reduce the stress placed on the knee and ankle.
What are the safety benefits of the reconfigured Tennis Center Lot entrance?
Safely maneuvering through the existing Elm Street and Hibbard Road park entrance can be difficult during periods of high traffic volumes due to the close proximity of the parking lot to the traffic signal. The new design extends the queuing distance between the lot and Hibbard Road and introduces a second outbound lane from the lot. The extended queuing distance and additional lane will allow for cars leaving the parking lot to queue in two lines, three cars deep, rather than one line two cars deep. This allows for more efficient control of vehicles exiting the lot and fewer turning conflicts inside the parking lot.
Function and Use
What other improved amenities will be a part of this plan to improve the user experience?
Other amenities include the use of four locations for bathrooms as opposed to one (north side of AC Nielsen, Golf service center, inside AC Nielsen, and adjacent to the new playground); concession stand for users, picnic area and a tots playground that faces the playing fields, and walking paths throughout playfields.
What happens to the activities that occupy the fields when they are under construction?
Arrangements are being completed with New Trier, Unit 36 and the Northfield Park District to distribute play of Winnetka Park District Programs to other locations. The fields garner so much use that it is anticipated that we will have some activities reduced due to the lack of available space with other organizations. As with all construction, this condition is only temporary until the fields are ready and open for use.
How will this development be tied to the overall village-wide bicycle transportation plan?
This plan is being considered along with a Village-wide integrated bicycle/pedestrian plan. A ten foot multi-use path is planned from Pine Street to Oak Street to enable walkers and bikers to share the sidewalk which will improve accessibility to the school and the park.
Will parking facilities be improved as a part of the master plan initiative?
Yes, several improvements are being planned with the parking facilities. There will be seventeen new parking spaces at the Skokie Playfield Service Center and two additional parking spaces in front of the tennis center. More importantly perhaps is the improved circulation plan in front of the Park District Administration Center to improve ingress and egress to the Playfield. Additionally, there are two locations for dropping off patrons which include bypass lanes to allow patrons to drive around those vehicles still standing at the drop off aisle.
Why re-work the traffic signal at Elm and Hibbard? What are the benefits?
The traffic signal will be upgraded to modern design standards and will provide countdown timers at the pedestrian cross walks and emergency vehicle preemption (EVP) system. The countdown timers will allow pedestrians to know exactly when the signal will change and the EVP system will automatically recognize emergency vehicles on the roadways and give them the right of way through the intersection. The new signal will provide better safety to users of the park and Washburne; it will also reduce emergency vehicle response times in the area.
Will bicycle facilities be improved on the playfield campus?
Trail systems will be available to provide bicycle riders easier access to the field they will be using during their stay. New bicycle racks will also be incorporated throughout the facility.
Are bicycle facilities considered in adjacent areas of the Skokie Playfield?
The Park District is working on a comprehensive bicycle trail system throughout the community to enhance the notion of using alternative transportation systems when navigating the community. The Skokie Playfield is one of the central destination points of this plan along with schools, parks, other trail systems and downtown areas. The Board and staff of the Winnetka Park District want to encourage bicycles as a mode of transportation to the playfield and other destinations in the community.
What are some of the features that are offered in the AC Nielsen Tennis Center addition?
New front desk, new locker rooms and bathrooms, acceptable spaces for the tennis staff to conduct their office work, a player lounge with television, meeting and eating facilities.
Why do you need to change the tennis center at all?
The AC Nielsen Center was constructed 50 years ago and built in several phases. While the courts serve users very well, the design and ancillary spaces do not meet current needs of patrons or staff. A new lounge will provide a gathering place for players. Other improvements include new locker rooms, bathrooms and elevator access to the second level.
What will happen to the driving range?
The driving range will be used for stormwater storage during heavy rain events. Water will be held there until water in the lakes of the golf course subsides. The range will be improved as the land surface will be lowered by 3-4 feet and attractive land targets will be placed at various distances on the range. It is anticipated that the use of the range will be halted in October 2012 and will resume June 1, 2013.
What is happening south of the ice arena?
While areas south of the ice arena are in a long term plan for improvement, this area will be untouched by development at this time. As a reminder, most of these playfields are owned by New Trier High School (south of Cherry and east of the Par 3 Golf Course.)
Will the par 3 course be affected by any of this?
The par 3 golf course will not be impacted by this development plan.
Where will the sledding opportunities take place if the current location is eliminated?
The existing hill where sledding takes place adjacent to the ball diamonds will be eliminated. However, it is going to be moved to a tree shaded location south of the Ice Arena. Thus the Ice Arena facility can be used for bathroom and concession facilities.
Where is the pool in the plan?
The Park District Board of Commissioners approved a site for the pool in the comprehensive Skokie Playfield Master Plan and identified construction consideration as a 4-10 year project. Completion of core storm water conveyance and storage improvements are the highest priority to serve existing user demand as well as prepare the site for future improvements.
Why consider synthetic turf fields when results from a recent caucus survey indicated limited support?
A significant amount of time has been devoted to the study of the use of the Skokie Playfield and the athletic programs hosted by the fields. Field usage is 89% of available capacity in prime time hours. As a result, field conditions are compromised with holes, poor and often unplayable grass, and dirt field surfaces that when dry are very hard. Artificial turf will enable new programming with increased field capacity.
Artificial turf is a new positive, logical improvement as an answer to poor field conditions and increasing field capacity for new usage. Incorporating two surfaces, 30% artificial turf and 70% natural turf, enables the Park District to dedicate and better serve high intensity programming usage with artificial turf and align lower intensity programming usage with natural turf. As a result, natural turf conditions, with proper rest between uses, will improve in function of playing conditions and in appearance. Rest is a critical element in proper natural turf field management. Unfortunately, due to heavy user demands, rest is not a condition that is not exercised under current management practices.
What does the synthetic turf look like when compared to natural grass?
Synthetic field technology has changed dramatically over the past several years to the point where the color differences are not noticeable. The only time where the color of the synthetic surface will be obvious will be in the winter when other natural grass surfaces are dormant. Locations of existing artificial turf fields include Loyola Academy in Glenview (located at Johns Drive and Chestnut near Target.
How much field capacity is gained with turf?
Field use capacity is increased by over 40% with the introduction of synthetic turf. An additional level of importance is that the fields can be played on rain or shine with no wait time after a storm event.
What new use will be accommodated if WPD does artificial turf?
Synthetic turf fields will be distributed to the following sport programs: football, lacrosse, field hockey, t-ball, men’s and women’s softball, exercise programs, walking classes, and baseball.
Will the synthetic turf fields be available for rent to outside recreation organizations?
Use of the synthetic turf fields will be made available to users once use has been allocated to Park District programs and programs operated by affiliates of the Park District. Use will be made available for a fee. All users will be issued permits. Permits and site use will be administered by the Park District Administration office and managed by a site supervisor.
Will the field lighting be upgraded? Will it affect the surrounding residences?
Yes, the existing lights will be upgraded; however, it will not impact surrounding residences. The two fields west of the Tennis Center will also be lighted. These fields receive heavy use and represent the only fields in the community for this age group (13/14). The most northerly fields of the park will remain without lighting. The lighting system will have state-of-the-art equipment to focus the light onto the playing areas and away from neighboring properties.
Other Changes and Improvements
What aesthetic improvements and amenities are planned for the golf service center at Pine and Hibbard?
The Skokie Playfield Service Center located at Pine and Hibbard will experience a significant transformation. The storage bins will be removed and the area will be converted into a parking lot, with appropriate landscaping to serve users of the playfield on weekends and evenings. Bathroom access will be provided to users in the evening and weekends. Exterior improvements include a new roof with architectural shingles; window dressings will be changed and appointed with shutters. New pedestrian and garage doors will be hung.
What happens to the tot lot by the tennis courts?
The tot playground adjacent to the outdoor tennis courts will be moved to the northwest side of the Park District Administration Office adjacent to the ball field complex so it will serve more children.
Is a skate park in the plans?
The skate park will no longer be available for use. Over the past few years we have seen a significant decline in its usage.
When will the project work be initiated and what is the projected completion date?
The tennis center expansion will begin in August, 2012 and conclude in February, 2013. The parking lot improvements will begin August, 2012 and conclude in October, 2012. If approved by the Village, the Skokie Playfield work will begin in the late Fall 2012 and will be a three year process depending on timing of the work that is to be completed. Play on the synthetic turf would begin in June 2013 and play on the natural turf fields will begin after two growing seasons or by June 2014.
Additional Information & Resources
Summer 2012 Park Place
Skokie Playfield Master Plan Phase I & II Proposed Plan Poster
Skokie Playfield Master Plan Phase I & II Architect Rendering
Interior Tennis Center Schematic
Tennis Center Artist Rendering
Skokie Playfield Public Hearing - Overview Presentation (January 19, 2012)
Skokie Playfield Public Hearing - Turf Options Presentation (January 19, 2012)
July 29, 2011 Financing Press Release
Skokie Playfield Master Plan (Framework Plan) - Exhibit A (Adopted April 28, 2011)
Skokie Playfield Master Plan (Illustrative Master Plan) - Exhibit B (Adopted April 28, 2011)
Skokie Playfield Master Plan Poster - Both Drawings Side By Side (Adopted April 28, 2011)
WPD Target Initiatives Matrix/Conceptual Budget (presented to Park Board March 17, 2011)