Welsh Park could see renovation, pending grant approval

By Noah Johnson

DeKALB — Welsh Park may be in for a renovation that would include an additional basketball court, a remodeled playground, a game area and a splash pad.

The DeKalb Park District applied for a grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and, if it receives the grant, would fund half of the redesign, according to the project’s grant application. The redesign is estimated to cost over $791,000.

Amy Doll, executive director of the park district, said the park district presented the project to a grant committee earlier this month and is now awaiting a decision. If the park district is able to get the grant, work would likely begin in the spring of 2021, she said.

The Welsh Park site plan also includes two pickleball courts, an 8-inch-wide asphalt path, two flag football fields and a rain garden and pollinator area.

The redesign is part of the Annie Glidden North Revitalization plan. Adopted by the city in 2018, the plan aims to improve the quality of life for the Annie Glidden North neighborhood.

The redesign’s grant application had letters of support from NIU President Lisa Freeman, Mayor Jerry Smith and City Manager Bill Nicklas, among other officials.

“When you put in a great park, people come out of their homes and they come use it, and that really helps people feel invested and connected to their neighborhood, community and their neighbors,” Amy Doll, executive director of the park district, said.

Dan Kenney, director of the DeKalb County Community Gardens, worked with the original Annie Glidden North revitalization task force.

“We’re kind of early in the process right now, so one of the challenges … is just making sure that we’re reaching out and getting in touch with all the stakeholders inside and outside the neighborhood,” Kenney said.

Despite its challenges, Nicklas said that one of the greatest accomplishments of the revitalization plan has been the widespread collaboration.

“It keeps growing more and more,” Nicklas said. “People who are either part of the neighborhood or part of the broader community are joined at the hip and are trying to make for a better living, working experience in the Annie Glidden North neighborhood.”