Oak Brook’s biggest park to expand; some residents unhappy

Despite concerns from neighbors about the glare of lights from new ballfields, Oak Brook Park District is moving ahead with first phase of an at least $7 million plan to expand its largest park.

Village board members voted 4-2 Tuesday night to give the park district permission to pursue the Central Park project. The decision was made after roughly two hours of discussion at a meeting attended by more than 130 people.

“This was a difficult decision by the village board,” park board Commissioner Kevin Tan said after the vote. “But I believe it was the right decision. It will be for the benefit of all of Oak Brook.”

Changes to the 71-acre park near Jorie Boulevard and Forest Gate Road include new walking paths, a playground and a clubhouse, as well as improving the accessibility and safety of existing ballfields.

In the initial phase, a larger ballfield will be moved south and west to increase the distance between home plate and the backstop. The field also would get new LED lights. In addition, existing light standards that are in the field of play would be moved.

Park district officials say the changes to the field are intended to increase player safety.

But neighbors in the nearby Forest Gate subdivision are opposed to shifting the larger ballfield — called Field 1 — because lights will be moved closer to their homes.

“Forest Gate is not opposing any other aspects of this plan,” said Tom Cygan, a Forest Gate resident. “We’re not opposing improved dugouts, spectator areas, ADA-accessible playgrounds, fitness areas, trails, clubhouse, LED lighting on Fields 2, 3 and 4 or synthetic turf. We are not protesting any of that. Our opposition is about Field 1.”

Neighbor Bob Aprati said the larger field does not need to be expanded.

“You can approve everything else,” Aprati told village trustees. “Just don’t allow for the enlargement of the field and the movement of lights.”