Long Grove revives park plans

Lancer Meadows neighbors question need for park spending

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Nancy Herrin had some ideas for Long Grove’s small, overlooked Lancer Park. Benches. A trail. Maybe a small play area.

The Long Grove council member envisioned developing it as a quiet place for reflection in nature, not just swing sets and slides.

Turns out, someone else did, too.

City clerk Rose Guyer found plans from 2009 drawn from previous council discussions. Now Herrin hopes to revive that plan as a guideline for collaborative development of ground some dismissed because of its proximity to the town’s sewage lagoons.

“It’s a nice piece of land. People had been complaining about the lagoon for a long time,” she said.

“We have a lot of walkers and bikers in the neighborhood. I think people would go over there. We have a lot of nature lovers in Long Grove,” she said.

Herrin’s initiative also drew concerns from park neighbors who say the 2.23-acre field gets sufficient use without any additional expense.

Neighbors Nikki Sailor and Jim Kiesey say Long Grove has plenty of park priorities before developing another. Both joined Long Grove’s Sept. 8 online council meeting to learn more and share concerns.

“I understand Nancy’s point, that at some point we might need to develop a park. But 10 years after that plan, I don’t understand why there’s a need now to develop another park in a town this size,” Sailor told The NSP.

Herrin enjoys morning walks in the  Lancer Meadow public area from the access point on West Main Street. She proceeds south to the park nestled between back yards of those on Main and those living to the south on Mulberry Lane.

Herrin said council member Cindy Blinkinsop and former member Jon Drumm led efforts to plant some trees in the area. But Herrin thinks the community will support more.

The 2009 plan offered one option with prairie grass and an unpaved loop trail; and a second option with a play area, paved walkways and a pavilion and parking area on West Main Street.

Clerk Guyer found the plans during the move to the new city hall last year. She also tracked down minutes that may explain why the plan died: Ballpark estimates of improvements exceeded $300,000.

Herrin suggested a far less ambitious approach that begins with surveying residents, then seeks grant funding for any changes.

Sailor and some other neighbors ask: Why change?

Sailor said the property already accommodates residents playing ball, chipping golf shots and other uses that require no additional investment.

Further, she’s worried about security concerns developing park in an area that can’t be seen, or easily accessed from Main Street.

Herrin welcomed the feedback and said she’s eager to hear more. The council suggested surveying residents to gauge interest. She sees the 2009 plans as a starting point for discussions, not a roadmap.

Kiesey said the survey should begin by asking if, not how, it might be developed. “That would be my ask, that it’s not a foregone conclusion. I would hope it’s a question to the want or need, rather than this is going to happen and who wants to be on the planning committee,” Kiesey told the council.

Council member Mike Boddicker supported a survey and asked the council to pay close attention to the park’s neighbors.

“I’d be interested in doing some kind of analysis to determine the best kind of option that will benefit everybody. I’m all for adding parks. But ultimately, the people who would have the most say would be people with properties bordering that area. I’d say, yes, let’s put a park there, but I live on the other side of town,” Boddicker said at the council meeting.

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