Techny Prairie Park And Fields

Techny Prairie Park and Fields is an 82-acre parcel located southeast of downtown Northbrook, Ill. The Northbrook Park District set out to create a unique and attractive park and uphold the district’s established goals and objectives. The renovation and additions to this community asset provide a one-stop shop for residents, and offer a range of recreational opportunities, including ball fields, batting cages, a skate park, synthetic-turf soccer fields, a play environment, a renovated nine-hole golf course with support building and a multi-use trail connection to the regional trail system.

Project Purpose

Beyond the park’s aesthetic value, it is a central location for diverse recreational opportunities, giving families a place to play together. Imagine a father and teenage son playing a quick round of golf while the mother and toddler enjoy the play environment adjacent to the field where their daughter is having soccer practice. Techny Prairie Park offers both passive and active recreation, and provides ample opportunities for the district and local organizations.

Built as the first phase of the overall park, the unique Trail Through Time–a 16-acre area along the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River–was designed as an outdoor educational and recreational area. The site preserves the natural character of the land while enhancing the indigenous plant material and reestablishing the parcel’s existing wetland. The educational concept provides visitors a “trail through time,” with nodes depicting how land has been used by various historical cultures. The modern formal garden, the early settlement, the council ring and Native American homestead serve as spaces for both passive uses and programmed activities. This eclectic “museum” trail celebrates a local plant hybridizer, Brother Charles, the Potawatomie Indians, the first pioneer settlers, and the famous 1800s landscape architect, Jens Jensen.

Degree Of Community Involvement

Acknowledging that public input is a key component in the development of recreational facilities, the community was invited to participate in Open House Community Meetings, led by the initial design team during the master plan process. Preliminary and final concepts were presented at public village board meetings throughout the design development by the Northbrook Park District and the design team, led by Hitchcock Design Group.

Creative Use Of Materials

Set against the natural backdrop of the Chicago River, the park is visually pleasing. Materials and site furnishings throughout are in line with the natural character of the park, as the stone, wood and paving complement each other. Care was taken to preserve the large existing trees on-site. In the play environment, rubber safety surfacing was designed to mimic the Northbrook Park District logo.

Efficient Uses Of Energy And Natural Resources

There was a conscious effort to minimize disturbance of the site in order to maintain the site character as well as preserve the natural shade from the existing mature trees. The landscape plan specified primarily native trees, shrubs and perennials, which use less water and require less maintenance.

Careful measures were taken throughout construction to ensure that existing wetlands remained undisturbed, and portions of the wetland were restored to ensure the habitat continues to thrive. The trail system is composed of milled asphalt paving and a boardwalk system across the wetlands. The prairie and wetland restoration within the floodplain and additional compensatory storage for flood waters benefit the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River. The restoration has increased available wildlife habitat and an additional vegetative buffer for storm water prior to its entering the river.

Consideration Of Maintenance And Operation Expenses

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