February 5, 2024 at 2:32pm

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Elena Ferrarin

Article by Elena Ferrarin

Communications Coordinator
Northbrook Park District


The Northbrook Park District is thrilled to have been awarded $2.8 million in state grant funding for a renovation project that will help transform the multigenerational recreation space inside the Leisure Center.

The Leisure Center, 3323 Walters Ave., is a 40,000-square-foot facility that serves as the headquarters for recreation programs for children and adults in Northbrook, hosting Sunshine Preschool, the Senior Center and the Northbrook Theatre. Dating back to the 1960s, the building used to hold the former Indian Ridge School and was acquired by the park district in the 1980s.

The $2.8 million funding awarded to the park district is part of the Park and Recreational Facility Construction Act, or PARC, grant program administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The grant award marks a significant milestone for the park district, and underscores its continued commitment to enhancing recreational opportunities for the community, Executive Director Chris Leiner said.

“The forthcoming renovation is set to bring about transformative change for the Northbrook Park District and its diverse user base,” he said. “Catering to the varied needs of our community, the project will benefit seniors, early childhood programs, theater, visual and performing arts enthusiasts, and those seeking versatile meeting spaces. The impact of this investment will extend beyond physical upgrades, ensuring the facility’s ability to serve the community for years to come.”

The project will enhance the Leisure Center with a variety of new and exciting areas: a new lounge, additional art spaces, and a technology and training room, among others. Areas that will be renovated or reconfigured include multi-purpose rooms, the demonstration kitchen, the costume shop/programming space, the early childhood center and the dressing rooms. The work also will upgrade the building to current ADA standards.

Part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital improvement program, the PARC grant program altogether awarded more than $28 million to local governments for the improvement of recreational opportunities for their communities.

Northbrook Park District Board President Lisa Chalem said she and her fellow commissioners are excited about the opportunity to serve residents with a facility upgrade that will further boost its ability to meet the needs of the community. “It is so important to update this building that houses our pre-school, senior center, and programs and activities for everyone,” she said. “I want to thank our incredible staff for preparing the grant materials in such an effective way to make this renovation possible.”

The project received crucial support from state Sen. Julie Morrison, state Sen. Laura Fine and State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, as well as the Village of Northbrook and Northbrook School District 27.

Park district staff has begun meeting with architects to develop an engineering and construction timeline for the project, and looks forward to sharing more information with the community.