Athletic Field Improvements

At the direction of City Council, City staff have been evaluating a range of field improvement options, which may include improved natural grass or synthetic turf applications for the approximately 10-acre site at Deerpath Community Park. The Parks & Recreation Board hosted Community Workshops to gather resident input on priorities and criteria related to potential athletic field enhancements at Deerpath Community Park.

Athletic Field Improvements Community Workshops

Workshop 1 - December 15, 2021

The Lake Forest Parks & Recreation Board hosted the first Athletic Field Improvements Community Workshop on December 15 to gather input from residents on options and priorities related to potential field improvements. The workshop included exhibits and a scorecard exercise, round table discussions, and a report out session for sharing table comments. If you missed the workshop, check out the Community Workshop 1 Summary and workshop recap video.

Workshop 2 - February 17, 2022 via Zoom

The second Athletic Field Improvements Community Workshop was held virtually on Thursday, February 17. The purpose of the meeting was to answer questions from the first workshop (held on December 15) and provide the community an opportunity to evaluate different design approaches for Deerpath Community Park. If you couldn’t make the meeting, watch the recording or view the presentation slides. A comment form was open through Thursday, February 24 for people who couldn't attend the meeting to share feedback. View the Community Workshop 2 Summary.

Survey Results

In order to get a pulse for community sentiment, we conducted a short survey to gather preliminary information on community priorities related to athletic field improvements at Deerpath Community Park. The online survey was available from October 15-23, 2021. The survey received 761 unique responses, 730 from self-identified Lake Forest residents. Responses from the 31 non-residents are not included in the summary. The survey was administered and analyzed in collaboration with Zencity, a community engagement platform for local government. View the Athletic Field Improvements Survey Results Summary.

Athletic Field Improvement FAQs

What's the background on this project?
During development of the Parks and Recreation Department Master Plan in 2019, the community identified artificial turf fields/improved field drainage systems as one of the most important outdoor amenities improvements for Lake Forest. The recommendation in the Master Plan was to further study the need for addressing field conditions across all City parks, how the fields are used, options for improvements, and considerations of priorities.

In 2020, the City, in partnership with The Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation, engaged Hitchcock Design Group to conduct an Athletic Field Assessment to provide a high-level evaluation of all the City owned athletic fields and present conceptual recommendations based on athletic field needs. The Athletic Field Assessment presented three recommendations for improvement:

  • Improvements in-place to enhance park utilization without layout changes or major investments
  • Layout improvements that reposition fields in existing parks
  • Sports complex options that include synthetic turf, sports lighting, and improved capacity to host large events and tournaments

City staff presented several of those options at the City Council Workshop in July 2021. During that discussion, there was a clear consensus that something needs to be done to improve the City’s athletic fields. Council directed City staff to begin investigating two options for a sports complex at Deerpath Community Park: 1) layout improvements with the existing natural turf and 2) synthetic turf. 

At the Capital Budget Workshop in November, City Council informally designated funding for design engineering for either natural or synthetic turf improvements. The allocated amount can be used for either natural or synthetic improvements, a topic that will be more fully discussed through a community engagement process over the next few months. The funding allocation is important as it will help City staff finalize the capital budget that will be formally adopted in April 2022.

What alternatives are being considered?

City staff are investigating the feasibility of natural and synthetic options for a sports complex at Deerpath Community Park. The project is currently undergoing a community engagement process to gather community feedback on potential options.

Were other locations considered?
The Athletic Field Assessment considered multiple options for a potential sports complex, including Deerpath Community Park, Townline Park, and Northcroft Park. Deerpath Community Park presents the most feasible option for a sports complex due to its size, secluded location, existing sports lighting, parking availability and accessibility.
Is there a timeline for this project?
Athletic Field Improvements Timeline 5.9.22 (1)
What sustainable elements will be included?
It’s too early in the process to identify specifics, but the City is looking into ways to incorporate sustainable elements into the design. Some potential elements may include rain gardens, bio-swales, permeable pavement for surrounding improvements, and natural infill options (coated sand, organic matter like walnut shells or cork, engineered wood particle, etc.).
How much will the improvements cost?

Options for athletic field improvements are currently being analyzed, so it is too early to know what the cost might be. Estimates will be available for the different field improvement options once the analysis is complete. The project cost will influence what funding options are considered. If the project moves into a design phase, that’s when there will be a community engagement process which will include a thorough discussion of the financial options.

Will there be opportunities for community input?
Yes! The City is looking into athletic field improvements at Deerpath Community Park in response to community input gathered through the Master Plan and Athletic Field Assessment.

The project is currently in a community engagement phase. A Community Workshop was held on Wednesday, December 15 to gather residents' input on options and priorities. A second Community Workshop was held on Thursday, February 17 to answer questions from the first workshop (held on December 15) and provide the community an opportunity to evaluate different design approaches for Deerpath Community Park.
Who can I contact if I have questions?
If you have questions about the project, please email cityhall@cityoflakeforest.com.
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