Oakton Park Project

Proposed park and facility improvement plan to protect and enhance the Park Ridge Park District's largest park.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Park Ridge Park District placing a referendum on the November 2022 ballot?

Park Ridge Park District (PRPD) wants to maintain and improve the aging recreation facilities at Oakton Park, protecting and enhancing our community’s largest park. Based on feedback from the taxpayers, PRPD also seeks to significantly expand recreation opportunities at Oakton Park, while at the same time relieving pressure on other PRPD facilities.

What improvements would be funded by the voter-approved referendum?

The proposal is focused on the following site and facility upgrades:

  • Renovating the 53-year-old Oakton Ice Arena, including:

    • Completing the required replacement of the outdated ice mechanical system which currently uses R-22 refrigerant which is no longer being produced
    • Repairing, renovating and/or replacing outdated, deteriorated siding, mechanicals, ice rink floor, dasher board system, restrooms, locker rooms, lobby area and ventilation system, most of which are past their useful lives
    • Moving the team and coaches rooms directly adjacent to the main rink
    • Addressing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Illinois Accessibility Code (IAC) compliance issues throughout the building, including multipurpose room, restrooms, locker rooms and bleachers. By eliminating the second floor of the facility which currently does not have elevator access, some of the largest accessibility concerns will be resolved.
    • Replacing the deteriorated parking lot and adding more than 100 additional parking spaces
  • Adding a studio rink, training room and concessions area
  • Building an indoor turf field and multipurpose rooms with adjoining outdoor patio/fireplace
  • Adding an outdoor gathering space in the Oak Grove
  • Creating a half-mile path circling the park and offering free indoor walking opportunities around the perimeter of the new indoor turf field
  • Improving the existing driving range by replacing poles and netting along the west and north sides
  • Relocating the dog park, which will become a more attractive space with shade and allow for facility and parking improvements
  • Improving storm water management
What are the likely benefits of the proposed improvements?

There are many anticipated benefits, including:

  • Expanding year-round sports and recreation opportunities for all ages, infants through seniors
  • Protecting and improving the 53-year-old Oakton Ice Arena to extend its useful life
  • Upgrading facility efficiency and reducing costly and disruptive emergency repairs
  • Freeing up programming space and relieving wear-and-tear on other PRPD facilities, especially existing gymnasiums
  • Adding recreational opportunities at Oakton Park and providing our community with its most-requested new recreation facility (indoor turf field)
  • Eliminating the need to drive to other communities for indoor athletics, saving time and money
  • Adding the opportunity to allow for affiliate practice space and certain games, when the weather does not allow for outdoor activity
  • Creating much-needed indoor and outdoor areas for walking/jogging
  • Addressing ADA/IAC code issues to improve accessibility
  • Expanding opportunities for community events and competitions
  • Strengthening the financial performance of Oakton Park facilities, creating a self-funding facility and helping pay for future capital improvements districtwide
  • Further protecting and improving our quality of life and property values
Why is this project being proposed now? 

Ozone-depleting R-22 refrigerant, which is currently used at the ice arena, was phased out of production as of January 2020, so a new mechanical system must be installed to accommodate a new refrigerant. Additionally, the mechanical system, ice rink floor, and dasher boards have reached their 25-year life expectancy, and the building is faced with numerous accessibility compliance issues. These issues need to be addressed, along with the addition of modern amenities commensurate with neighboring facilities in order to keep the ice program relevant.

What will the improved facility look like?

On the District’s website you will find a preliminary site plan, floor plan and elevation.  If approved, the plans will be refined in design development stage.  Go to: https://www.prparks.org/Oakton-Referendum

What types of programming will be available at Oakton Park following the proposed improvements?

There will be many new and improved sports and recreation programs and opportunities at Oakton Park, including:

Oakton Ice Arena (Main & Studio Rink)
3-on-3 hockey league
Broomball league
Community/Open skating times
Figure skating
Hockey league
Hockey clinics
Learn to play hockey
Learn to figure skate
Open hockey sessions
Private lessons/coaching (figure, hockey, speed)
Rentals (birthday parties, etc.)
Speed skating
Stick & Puck (youth/adult)
And more!

Indoor Turf Field
7-on-7 football
Adult groups (soccer, football, other)
Drop-in play times with inflatables
Field hockey
Flag football
Indoor batting tunnels
Lacrosse practice/training
Lacrosse winter league
Men’s soccer league practice location
Open indoor walking times around perimeter of turf field
Potential game location (Instructional/Pee-Wee Soccer)
Special events
Sports programming for ages PreK-14
Training/practice location for multiple sports/affiliates
Youth indoor soccer league
Women’s soccer league
And more!

Multipurpose Rooms
Community meetings
District programming
Private rentals (birthday parties, etc.)
And more!

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How was the size of the indoor turf field determined?

The current proposal calls for a 60x60 yard turf field. This size field was selected based on the shape of the property, the desire to preserve trees and the golf driving range, recommendations provided by turf facility managers who were interviewed, flexibility the space offers for multiple activities, the importance of practice space and the District’s bonding capacity.

Why is an indoor turf facility being added? 

An indoor multi-sports complex is our residents’ top-requested new recreation facility in our surveys and needs assessments. The indoor turf facility is very versatile, as it can be used for a wide variety of programming and will withstand time as trends change. The addition of indoor turf also allows residents to stay in Park Ridge for indoor practices and leagues for a variety of sports instead of going to neighboring communities. New leagues will be added including Winter Lacrosse, 7-on-7 Football, Field Hockey, and Women’s Soccer. Additionally, the space will expand recreational opportunities for all ages through indoor drop-in play for early childhood ages, rental and party opportunities, special events, and open indoor walking around the perimeter of the turf field. Not only do these improvements enhance recreation opportunities at Oakton Park, but also relieves pressure on other Park District facilities, especially the gymnasiums.

What is the approximate distance of the area around the indoor turf that will be used for indoor walking?

The distance will be approximately 0.14 miles, or 7 1/3 laps per mile.

What are the benefits of adding a smaller studio rink?

Classes normally occupying the main ice sheet could be moved to the 60x90 foot studio rink. This would allow for the addition of a recreation house hockey league program for ages eight and older. Additional ice time on the main rink would also allow for expanded hockey and skate lessons, figure skating programming and expanded ice rentals for affiliates and other user groups. The smaller studio rink would also host 3-on-3 hockey, broomball, clinics, private lessons for figure, hockey and speed skating, birthday parties, youth and adult Stick & Puck, and other programs.

How did the Park Ridge Park District determine the amenities offered in the referendum?

Over the past five years, the Park District has worked with consultants, staff, and the community, to develop the recommended plan. Through analysis of the existing conditions of the park and ice facility, a statistically-valid community needs assessment survey, an in-depth market analysis, financial evaluation, community and stakeholder input meetings, and review by a citizen task force, the amenities in the plan were determined and approved by the Park Board of Commissioners.

How could my family utilize Oakton Park if we don't play sports?

We know that communities are strengthened when residents are provided places to gather with friends, neighbors, and their families. An outdoor gathering area nestled amongst the beautiful Oak Grove will create new opportunities to socialize and enjoy nature at Oakton Park. The new multi-purpose rooms with access to the adjoining outdoor patio area with a fireplace create space for general programs, private rentals, and community group meetings. Not only do the new studio rink and indoor turf field allow for new programing, but also for birthday parties and special events. The half-mile pathway circling the park and indoor walking around the perimeter of the new indoor turf field provide walking opportunities for all ages. Indoor drop-in play times at the indoor turf will provide families with young children a place to play on rainy or cold days.

Would district residents continue to receive priority registration and discounted fees at the Oakton Sports Complex?

Yes, district residents would benefit from priority registration and lower fees. Open walking times at the indoor turf field would be free of charge to district residents.

What are some of the most pressing accessiblity issues that would be addressed?

The Oakton Ice Arena does not have an elevator which restricts access to the second floor, including the multipurpose program room, restrooms, and team changing rooms. This requires participants to go up and down a tight staircase to access the rink while wearing skates. By redesigning the space to be on one floor, these would be solved. Additionally, a new facility will address accessibility issues with the first floor restrooms, bleachers, offices, and more.

Why not just do the bare minimum and fix the current ice center without adding a studio rink and an indoor turf field?

This option was also considered and fully evaluated. Construction cost estimates still require this option to go to referendum for taxpayer approval. This alternative also did not improve the ability to add programming needed to sustain rink operations and to remain competitive with surrounding ice facilities. By adding a new studio rink, classes normally occupying the main rink could be moved to the studio rink, allowing for the addition of a recreation house hockey league program for ages eight and older, 3-on-3 hockey, broomball, clinics, private skating lessons, birthday parties, and other programs.

A pro-forma (financial analysis of annual operating revenues and expenses) was developed to evaluate the financial viability of each design concept considered. The pro-forma of the proposed plan estimated a positive annual net revenue of approximately $474,500. Additionally, the anticipated revenue is able to cover the facility's future capital needs over the next 30 years, creating a self-funding facility positioned for the future. The concept which eliminated the indoor turf does produce a positive annual net revenue; however, it is lower in annual net revenue, and over time, it did not cover the facility’s ongoing capital needs.

Why isn’t the Park District adding a pool at Oakton Park?

The Park Ridge Park District strives to meet the guidelines the National Parks and Recreation Association sets for recommended level of service for park district amenities. For swimming pools, NRPA recommends 1 per 20,000 residents. The population of Park Ridge as reported in the most recent census is 39,656, which means the District should have 2 swimming pools to meet the NRPA standards. Our District currently exceeds this recommendation with 2 outdoor pools and 1 indoor pool, in addition to an outdoor splash pad and wading pool.

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What is the District’s commitment to sustainability on this project?

The Park Ridge Park District will collaborate with the design team at Wight & Company, the architectural firm selected for this project, to take a holistic approach to the project to optimize occupant wellbeing and environmental stewardship.

The project includes the following features:

  • Native landscaping will be incorporated into the site improvements.
  • The parking lot will feature best management practices (BMP’s) including permeable pavers, underground detention for water infiltration, and bioswales.
  • A large portion of the building is planned to be reused which significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with new construction.
  • Selected materials are to be no/low-emitting to protect indoor air quality, be durable in nature, and be mindful of end-of-life/replacement. The types of materials selected, along with high levels of recycled content and regional sourcing, help reduce the environmental impact of materials and associated embodied carbon.
  • The existing structural supports of the Ice Arena are wood beams, a material that plays a significant role in reducing the project’s embodied carbon impact because it is created through the carbon sequestration of trees. Some structural wood elements are being considered for portions of the addition, including the Studio Rink. Other areas will have steel structures with high recycled content.
  • Ventilation and/or air purification and filtration systems will be designed to maintain high levels of air quality that support participants’ wellbeing. Air quality monitors will be considered to evaluate air quality over time and systems will be put in place to reduce the risks associated with airborne contaminants (such as Covid).
  • Glass areas will be strategically placed throughout to bring daylight to all activity spaces. High-quality lighting, combined with daylighting, can reduce energy consumption and provide even lighting that mitigates contrast and glare.
  • Early design modeling will inform optimal passive strategies such as massing, roof overhangs, glazing locations, and types or proper insulation to reduce energy loads.
  • With design progression, efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems will be added and optimized through iterative energy modeling to reduce total energy consumption during operations.
  • The roof structure on the new addition will be designed to be ‘solar ready’ for potential photovoltaic array installation to additionally offset energy demands.

Additionally, the team plans to evaluate available grants and assess Net Zero Energy opportunities for either the entire facility or for its addition.

What does the District plan to use for the infill in the indoor turf facility?

The infill for the turf has not yet been determined as it is a design detail. The District is committed to using infill materials that will balance safety and playability, while being environmentally conscious. When the time for that decision comes, we will consult with experts in the industry and future users of the facility, including the affiliates and concerned residents. Products are evolving in this area, and depending on when the facility is constructed, there may be an alternative product developed that currently is not available. Therefore, we do not believe it is prudent to commit to a product at this time. We are aware of the concerns brought up surrounding crumb rubber and it will be factored into our product selection. We have been seeking out further information about the safety of crumb rubber use on turf fields, and will continue to gather information. Following are links to some of the information staff has reviewed so far:

FieldTurf - Synthetic Turf Safety Proven with Science

FieldTurf - Safety Research

Environment and Human Health, Inc. - Industry’s Claims Summary of Findings

Milone & MacBroom - Evaluation of the Environmental Effects of Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields

What happens in 10 to 12 years when the indoor turf needs replacement, will the turf field be recycled?

The infill material will be removed and separated for reuse on the replacement field. The turf grass fibers are recyclable. Wight & Company, recommends working with FieldTurf for the artificial turf as they are a leading firm in this area and are constantly evaluating developments in this area and looking for ways to recycle the turf grass fibers when the time comes for replacement. FieldTurf has made a “Goal Zero” commitment, and state that they are committed to zero waste to landfill by 2025. Click here to read more information on this topic which goes into important details on their commitment.

Progress is being made to advance recycling artificial turf in America. A pilot program has recently been launched by TenCate Grass, ExxonMobil and Cyclyx to process 50 aged turf fields from high schools and college campuses. Click here to read more about this program.

How many trees will be removed due to the project?

Of the nearly 300 trees currently at Oakton Park, approximately 30 mature trees are expected to be removed due to construction. We will continue to work with the goal to minimize tree loss, and at a minimum, a tree will be planted for every tree that is removed. The facility site plan was strategically designed with the goal of preserving the greatest number of trees.

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How much would the referendum cost taxpayers?

The estimated tax impact for a household with a median home value of $437,300 is $136 per year or $11 per month for 25 years.

How can I find the fair market value of my home?

The “fair market value” of a home is explicitly listed on the tax bill that is sent from the county treasurer’s office or can be found at https://www.cookcountypropertyinfo.com/

Does the Park District receive funding from the City of Park Ridge?

No, the District does not receive funding from the City.

How does the PRPD’s current tax levy compare to its peer districts?

The Park District’s 2020 tax rate is 0.449, which is below the existing tax rates for park districts in Des Plaines, Glenview, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect and Oak Park. The only peer park districts with a tax levy lower than Park Ridge are Skokie and Niles, at 0.406 and 0.385 respectively. (The 2021 tax rate has not been released.)

Why didn't the Park District plan to cover this project in their budget?

Annually, the District evaluates the top priorities for capital repair and replacement. The District pays for these capital improvements from a combination of operational surplus, non-referendum bonds, and grants when available. Adding new amenities and major renovations of aging facilities often go beyond the limits from the above sources, and require alternative funding. The District has reserved $3.5 million in our capital fund for the needed replacement of the ice mechanicals, but the proposed project requires approval by District voters.

What happens if the Oakton project’s bids come in over the current cost estimates?

The Park District has worked with our architects and engineers to adjust the project cost for current market conditions as well as include escalation costs for construction in 2024/2025. Until we receive actual bids for the project, which cannot be done until after the referendum passes, construction costs can fluctuate. The project is planned with a 10% contingency which can typically cover these cost fluctuations. However, if the contingency is not adequate, amenities of the proposed project may be scaled back or removed to meet the funding amount approved in the referendum.

Why is the Park District pursuing a referendum now as we are just coming out of a pandemic and inflation is rising?

When COVID hit in 2020, the District had started meetings and communications with the community in plans to place the referendum on the November 2020 ballot. The Board chose to pause the project due to the uncertainty of the times. While we know this might not be the ideal time to be approaching taxpayers with this project, the needs of the ice rink are at a crucial point and needs to be addressed. The longer the project is delayed, the more we risk a failure of the ice mechanical system that could permanently shut the facility down.

Can the District phase the project by completing the ice rink now and adding other amenities like the indoor turf in the future?

While phasing the project in this manner is possible, this approach would likely require the facility to go through multiple long shutdown periods for construction. Additionally, the overall cost of construction would also be much higher.

Have other PRPD parks already been improved, and were those projects completed within budget?

Over the past eight years, PRPD has been strategically addressing our community’s highest priority park and recreation facility needs. Previously implemented Master Plan projects include renovations to the Centennial Aquatic Center and Maine Park Leisure Center, as well as the acquisition and development of Prospect Park. In recent years, the District has also successfully completed improvements to Centennial Fitness Center, South Park Recreation Center and many of our other parks and facilities, including the installation of picnic shelters, playgrounds and pathways. Each of these projects were completed within budget.

What oversight would be in place?

All project spending would be publicly disclosed, and project updates would be presented at District board meetings, on the Park District’s website, and social media channels

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Why is this the right time for the Park District to pursue funding for improvements at Oakton Park?

It’s time to address a variety of critical facility challenges, including extensive ADA/IAC compliance issues and updating aging mechanicals that still rely on now discontinued, ozone-depleting R-22 refrigerant. With construction and ongoing maintenance costs continuing to increase, the longer the District waits to address its highest priority capital facility needs, the more it will cost.  In addition, the 53-year-old Oakton Ice Arena is the only indoor facility within the District that has not been recently upgraded.

If the referendum passes, when would contruction start and be completed?

Construction is anticipated to start in Spring 2024, and be completed in late Summer 2025.

How will the referendum question appear on the November 8, 2022 ballot?

Shall the Park Ridge Park District, Cook County, Illinois, renovate the 53-year-old Oakton Ice Arena, build and equip an indoor sports facility and studio ice rink at Oakton Park, improve and equip the Oakton Park facilities and site, including constructing a looped walking pathway, improving the golf driving range and repairing and expanding the parking lot, and issue its bonds to the amount of $33,400,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?

Who will get to vote on the Park District’s referendum?

All registered voters who reside within the Park Ridge Park District boundaries will have the opportunity to vote on the referendum. A map of the Park District boundaries is available at: https://www.prparks.org/Portals/0/Assets/PDF/PubInfo/Park_Districts_Boundary_Map.pdf

When is the election?

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022.
Find your polling place at:

When is early voting?

Early voting will take place October 24 to November 7, 2022 at Park Ridge City Hall, 505 Butler Place.

Oct 24 - Oct 28: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Oct. 29: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Oct 30: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Oct 31 - Nov 4: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Nov 5: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Nov 6: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Nov 7: 9:00am - 5:00pm

Can I vote by mail?

Yes. Cook County offers Permanent Vote by Mail. For more information regarding voting by mail in Cook County, go to: https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/ways-to-vote/vote-by-mail.

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