Facility Profile - July 2007
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Something for Everyone

Techny Prairie Park & Fields in Northbrook, Ill.

By Emily Tipping

A gathering place

Beyond the park's natural and aesthetic beauty, it provides a place where community members and families can gather to take part in diverse recreational activities.

"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," explained Hitchcock Design Group.

With its multiple sports fields, playground, skatepark, golf course and educational trail, Techny Prairie provides passive and active recreation, with oodles of programming opportunities for both the park district, as well as local community organizations like the local public schools, as well as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The 22,000-square-foot concrete skatepark includes a half mini pipe, deep bowl, angular bowl, grinding ledges, a fly box and driveway ramps. The 7,600-square-foot playground provides age-appropriate play equipment for kids from 2 to 12 years old and is handicapped-accessible.

The park also offers new sports fields and ball fields to help accommodate the area's booming involvement in youth sports. There are two lighted soccer fields with artificial turf, which also include lines for lacrosse, as well as six batting cages and a new softball field, adjacent to three other ballfields, all of which are lit for evening play.

An educational place

One very unique component of the park is the Trail Through Time, a 16-acre area along the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River. Honored by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association in 2005 with an Outstanding Facility and Parks Award, the trail was intended to provide an outdoor educational and recreational area that preserves the land's natural character while enhancing indigenous plant material and re-establishing the wetland.

Nodes along the trail provide lessons on how land has been used through time by various historical cultures. The modern Formal Garden includes seating areas and trellis structures. A Settlers' Area includes a sod house foundation as well as an herb and kitchen garden. A Native American homestead area includes a wigwam and a firepit. Finally, there is a Council Ring with a firepit.

Educational signage is included along the trail to provide information to visitors and explain the historical significance of each node along the trail. In the wetland area, additional signage explains the ecological diversity of the area. A boardwalk system was designed to traverse the wetland so visitors can get a close-up view of the biological diversity that inhabits the land.

This portion of the park was completed in 2004, and has seen a great deal of use by the community and surrounding area. Local neighbors of the park use the trails to bike, jog and walk year-round, and the trail hooks into the larger regional trail system.

In a newsletter sent to Northbrook residents, Harvey told them, "This is your park now. You can hike, bike, picnic, play or just relax in a dramatic and distinctive setting that combines quiet beauty with the excitement of sports activities." At Techny Park, there truly is something for everyone.

Northbrook Park District:

Hitchcock Design Group: