STERLING – Renovation plans to make the Grandon Civic Center and Central Memorial Park more event friendly by adding a concession stand and restrooms are back on track, and work could start as soon as the fall.
The city has discussed improvements to the park for years but had a long list of other projects to pursue.
City engineering consultants Mead & Hunt Inc. expect to have the park’s updated design features ready by Sept.17, and City Manager Scott Shumard said he’s optimistic the work could be put out for bid soon, and begin in the fall.
The city has budgeted about $1.3 million for the project, which includes building restrooms and a concession stand on the eastern side of the park as well as updating light fixtures and infrastructure improvements.
The city is also being mindful of a road improvement plan the Illinois Department of Transportation intends to complete on Fourth Street on the north side of the park, which could eliminate some parking spaces, Shumard said, but the city hopes to replace any lost parking.
Becky Marruffo, studies and plans engineer for IDOT, said there’s a preliminary plan in place to improve the pavement between Second and Fourth streets, but the project has been stalled to identify potential funding.
She said property owners have been notified of the plans, but the lost spaces have more to do with the city’s plans than IDOT’s.
“Nothing’s finalized yet, and we are trying to work with the city and stakeholders,” Marruffo said.
The park is best known as home to the Sterling Municipal Band, but Sterling Main Street and others have brought in events such as Movies in the Park, Music Fest, Fiesta Days, and farmers markets.
Project plans also include general maintenance such as sidewalk, board and bench replacements and painting, plus landscaping improvements.
Part of the funding would come from the downtown tax increment financing district that’s earmarked for the park upgrades and the farmers market project.