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Normal takes public input for the planned Ziebarth Road Park

Maritza Navar-Lopez
Close to 30 community members attended a public hearing at Ironwood Clubhouse on Tuesday to offer input on the proposed Ziebarth Road Park in north Normal.

Ziebarth Road Park has roughly 17 acres of available space for a park development in north Normal, but when the park may be constructed and what it will look like is still unclear.

The Town of Normal is working with Wight & Company of Chicago to begin planning and has already gathered input from the community. At a meeting Tuesday night at the Ironwood Clubhouse, close to 30 community members met to provide ideas and concerns as the planning process begins.

Patty King, a senior landscape architect at Wight & Company, said local input is essential because they are the people who will use the park.

"We do actually take all this data back and use it to start building our program for the park itself. So, it's just really important. There's a lot of buy-in that happens,” said King. “People who get to help participate in the design process take a lot more ownership in their facilities, so it's just all around is a win-win.”

Community members were invited to use post-it notes to provide individual ideas and later prioritized ideas through votes. Commonly listed requests for the park included accessible play areas, walking and biking trails, and picnic areas.

Lara Remitz, landscape designer for Wight & Company, notes the emphasis placed on native landscaping as well.

“I thought that was really cool considering that it's right next to a lot of agriculture and basically connecting to Illinois landscape, is something that they should be doing throughout all of their parks. But right on the edge of the actual community, (it's good) to be able to tie in that into both the landscape as they are walking around and both aesthetics, as well as for their health and safety,” said Remitz.

The park currently has no timeline or budget, but King said this is not uncommon. In this process, the first step is taking community input and developing the plan. As Wight & Company develop the plan with the Town of Normal, they will create a budget and perhaps begin planning in phases.

King said the next step now is to take all the ideas and requests to get creative.

“So, we actually come up with concepts. We size the fields right. We size the parking lots appropriately and make sure that things fit and make sure we're putting like uses together. Someone specifically didn't want anything within 100 feet of any houses,” she said. “We will literally measure out a line that's 100 feet away from the houses to make sure that we're not violating that. So even though it was a request, we do actually take these seriously.”

King said once they organize the ideas, they will present them to the town and consult its input as well.

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Maritza Navar-Lopez is a student reporting intern at WGLT. She joined the newsroom in 2021.
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