A Sept. 12 open house designed to draw reaction from city residents regarding improvements and $700,000 in funding for Lilly Heights Park and the adjoining Greenway Trail attracted 31 people representing 24 households.
Neither the somewhat modest open house turnout nor the divergent opinions to the project surprised city officials. They said the open house results, as well as other comments, would be part of the decision whether to approve the project.
The first approval phase will begin with the Nov. 4 Plan Commission meeting, where members will hear the details of the plan and review all the documented comments to date. Public comment also will be solicited at that meeting.
"You have people who are adjacent to the park and those who live farther away," said Alan Nosbusch, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission. "We have tried to put a plan in place that will meet the needs of the community without stepping on too many toes. There will always be an objection of having something in your backyard because they don't want kids playing games and making noise. It doesn't matter if it's baseball, soccer or any other sport."
Nosbusch said converting Lilly Heights from a neighborhood to a district park meant to attract a wider audience is "a really old subject." He said the current plan includes an adjustment in the way the Greenway Trail connects to the park.
"The original plan was to punch through to the park from a cul-de-sac on the west side," Nosbusch said, noting issues with residents and the state Department of Natural Resources. "We switched the entrance to off of Lilly Heights Drive. There, it runs past five or six houses and the park on the south side."
Nosbusch and Bill Kolstad, director of parks, recreation and forestry, said the park will be reviewed first by the commission and then the Common Council.
"It's similar to other trail projects," Kolstad said. "We always have concerns from adjacent property owners about the costs and why the improvements are needed."
Improvements to the park include formalizing the current baseball and soccer fields, constructing an open-air shelter and relocating and expanding the playground. The trail would be enhanced by constructing 1,900 feet of off-road asphalt and boardwalk extending from the existing park to the west. The trail would be extended through the environmental corridor south of Dublin Court and connect to Shamrock Lane near Dara Street.
A key element of the park project is storm water management. Tom Mortensen is a senior project manager for R.A. Smith, an engineering consulting firm based in Brookfield.
"The park concept plan includes bio-infiltration where water that runs off of the parking area onto the grassy parts will go through plant life and the soil so that we are cleaning water that is full of grease and oil," Mortensen said. "When that grassy area fills, there is a pipe that connects to a dry basin in a pretty large area."
Mortensen said the city is interested in creating a storm water system that is even larger than needed. The system, he noted, helps keep the storm water from adjacent private property.
The entire project cost — $500,000 for the park and $200,000 for the trail — needs approval within the city's capital budget. If approved, the project could be completed in 2014.
The 35-acre park has a long history, beginning with its 1956 dedication as a 5-acre site as part of the Lilly Heights subdivision addition. As the park grew and the Greenway Trail was established, Kolstad and Nosbusch said, the intent was to link the two so that more city residents could take advantage of both amenities.
Making Lilly Heights a regional park will be something for residents "from all over the northeast region of Brookfield," Nosbusch said.
WHAT: review by Parks and Recreation Commission
WHERE: City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road
WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 4
INPUT: Not a formal hearing, but public comments allowed. Written comments may be sent to lillyheightspark@
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