Members of Deerfield’s Plan Commission heaped compliments on the Deerfield Park District’s plans to upgrade Jewett Park during a public hearing last month and the Village Board is set to vote on the plans later in January.
The commission unanimously recommended the first phase of Jewett Park 2.0 to the Village Board of Trustees Dec. 13 citing the benefits for the community of an upgraded 12-acre park near downtown Deerfield.
“It’s an enhancement for the enjoyment of the people of Deerfield,” Commission Chair Larry Berg said before voting.
Along with new pickleball courts, the first phase of the project includes moving the veteran’s memorial to the south side of the community center, renovating ball fields, adding a gaga ball pit and improving the skate park, according to Executive Director Jeff Nehila.
Though the commissioners were pleased with the project, some members of the public were divided. Of the eight people who spoke, three favored parts of the plan, four did not and one asked for clarification. Five talked about the pickleball court plans.
Susie Cutler, a Deerfield resident who lives close to where the courts are proposed, said she fears nearly 30 trees will be removed, reducing the shade and wooded appeal of the area. She said that included trees where the courts will be as well as others nearby.
“They are not a necessity there,” Cutler said referring to the pickleball courts. “By my count there are 22 trees where they will be built and those that are left will be scrawny ones. Please reconsider the plan.”
Nehila said all trees removed will be replaced even though they will not necessarily be in the same spot. He said the village code mandates the age and size replacement trees must be.
“Those we will add will be in excess of what we’re required to do by the village code,” Nehila said.
Carl Rosenthal said he was glad to see plans for the pickleball courts, but he wants more added. He said now he has to go as far as Buffalo Grove to play and wants to see the sport grow its presence in the village.
“Three is not enough,” Rosenthal said. “I hope there will be more in other (parks). I don’t see a lot of adult use (at Jewett Park). This is a game all types of people play and they all play together.”
Joe Cohen, president of the park district’s Board of Commissioners, previously said one of the purposes of the master plan change was adding uses to the park for residents of all ages.
Donna Osborn, who said she uses the park on a daily basis, also expressed concern over the pickleball courts and the possible installation of lights for night play in the future.
Nehila said a conscious decision was made not to allow night play on the courts after meeting with both neighbors and pickleball enthusiasts during the planning process. He said the same decision was made for the skate park.
Larry Fradin, another resident who wants to see more pickleball courts, said two can be installed on the space where one tennis court exists. He said the popularity of tennis is declining while that of pickleball is on the ascent.
The village board is tentatively scheduled to consider the commission’s report Jan. 22, according to Dan Nakahara, a planner with the village. A final vote could come in February.
Nehila said once the park district receives final approval, he hopes to start construction this summer and finish it by summer of 2020. The second phase will require a separate public hearing. That work will not start until the first portion is done.