Capital Improvement Projects are used by the DeKalb Park District to plan and fund long-range development and re-development projects. Here are some recently completed projects and potentional projects on the horizon!

Hopkins Pool Renovation Project

Hopkins Pool is the DeKalb Park District's family-friendly aquatic facility featuring a concession area, a lap pool with two water slides, a zero-depth kiddie pool, and a diving area with one-meter and three-meter driving boards.

Although the pool has evolved over the years (see history below), the aquatic facility footprint is nearly 90 years old! With an aging infrastructure, a pool renovation is needed or the facility risks closing due to the continuation of expensive repairs. 

The District is ready to invest in our family-friendly aquatic facility for current and future generations to continue enjoying our aquatic amenities.   

In the process of gathering community feedback regarding the future of Hopkins Pool, an Aquatics Community Engagement Survey was posted and shared March 1 - April 1, 2022, with 830 respondents. View the results below! 

Survey Results 

The Larson and Darby Group presented additional options to the Park Board that were gathered during the summer Pool Advisory Committee meetings on 9/22/22 , 10/19/22, and 01/19/23.

After considering several pool design concepts and costs, estimated pricing for these plans ranged from $10 million to beyond $16 million. After considering a 20-year financial outlook for the District, it was concluded the District could only fund a pool project between $8 million and $8.5 million, based on future capital needs and the estimated annual bond payment.

Staff recommended an updated œ2023 Renovation Plan vs. a complete pool replacement, as a fiscally responsible option consisting of several of the recommended options from public feedback. Moving in this direction was discussed and approved by the Park Board at the February 23, 2023, Park Board Meeting. 

Staff will continue working with the Larson and Darby Group on the next phases of Design Development and Construction Documents.

Renovation Plan

The tentative œ2023 Renovation Plan consists of the following elements: 

  • Renovation of existing locker rooms, including new bathrooms & a bridal suite for rentals
  • New lifeguard offices & storage rooms
  • New/separate entrance to the pool
  • New mechanical equipment/piping/main pool floor
  • New Myrtha walls and flooring for the 50-meter pool
  • New children's play structure & spray features
  • New waterslide(s)
  • New shade structures & pavilion
  • Newly renovated mechanical room
  • New concession area
  • New furniture & fixtures

The œ2023 Renovation Plan does not include a diving well with diving boards or a zero-depth pool. There are concerns regarding the removal of the current diving well as this is an element the current users enjoy, and the concept did not include a zero-depth entry as recommended by the DeKalb Community Pool Advisory Committee. When the pool renovation goes out to bid, two potential alternates will be 1.) the renovation of the diving well, and 2.) the addition of a zero-depth entrance in the approximate location of the current diving well. 

Staff will continue working with the Larson and Darby Group on the next phases of Design Development and Construction Documents.

Hopkins Pool Renovation Project Updates

Hopkins Pool Concept A as of 12/7/23
Hopkins Pool Concept B as of 12/7/23

Hopkins Pool Update 1/18/24

Hopkins Pool Update 2/22/24

Hookins Pool Update 3/28/24

During the DeKalb Park Board of Commissioners meeting held on March 28, 2024, Jim Leppert of IHC and Executive Director John Shea shared notable developments. The latter delivered a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation detailing the modifications to the Hopkins Renovation plans since the February Board Meeting. The primary objective of these alterations is to ensure that the project remains within the financial constraints of the Park District's budget while retaining the essence and quality of the original design.

Several adjustments have been introduced to the overall site plan to achieve this goal while maintaining the intended user experience and essential services. These revisions encompass various facets, including the utilization of the existing Aquatics office within the Hopkins Community Center, integration of enhanced landscaping elements throughout the site, reshaping the wading (baby) pool to accommodate the current capacity, redesigning the fast pass entrance located in the north parking lot, and reconfiguring the main entrance accessible through the south parking lot.

It was communicated that both IHC and Park District staff are diligently reviewing the project's scope of work. They plan to present an updated project cost during the April 25, 2024, Board of Commissioners Meeting. Moreover, it was highlighted that the submission for an IDPH permit would be delayed until the beginning or middle of May due to ongoing modifications to the existing site plan.

Following the comprehensive presentation, Executive Director Shea engaged with the Board of Commissioners about the next steps. It was collectively acknowledged that an additional budget allocation of $30,000 or more would be necessary if the decision were made to open the pool for the upcoming summer season. However, it was unanimously agreed upon by all present Board members to continue with the renovation design development and construction documents, leading to the commencement of demolition and construction during the summer of 2024, pending finances. 

The Board directed staff to proceed with the renovation plan as proposed, with the target of reopening Hopkins Pool in the summer of 2025. This led to the official closing of Hopkins Pool for the summer of 2024.

Once the plans are finalized, staff and consultants will organize a series of public open houses to provide information regarding the updated plans and the revised timeline leading to the grand opening of 2025.

During the February 22, 2024, Board of Commissioners Meeting, the Executive Director provided an extensive update on the advancement of the Pool Renovation Project. A thorough PowerPoint presentation detailing key aspects, such as the revised site map, was presented. Notably, completing design development drawings represents a significant achievement in the project's timeline.

Moreover, MEP, civil, and structural engineers conduct comprehensive on-site assessments to complete the construction documents. This collaborative effort ensures that every aspect of the renovation is carefully considered and meticulously planned.

In addition, it was announced during the meeting that soil boring activities across the site are slated to commence within the next two weeks. This crucial step is essential for evaluating ground conditions and informing subsequent construction planning decisions.

Jim Lappert, representing IHC, shared valuable insights into ongoing efforts to engage with construction and manufacturing firms. His report highlighted the proactive measures being taken to obtain updated pricing information. Mr. Lappert expressed confidence in finalizing a comprehensive cost estimate for the entire project within the next few weeks.

Furthermore, Mr. Lappert emphasized the critical importance of the regulatory approval process, mainly the submission of the necessary permit application to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Park District plans to submit a permit to IDPH by early April. 

During the Board of Commissioners Meeting on January 18, 2024, Stephen Nelson, with Larson and Darby, discussed the progress of the Pool Project since the last meeting. This included concepts of spray features for the baby pool.

During the Board of Commissioners Meeting on December 7, 2023, Stephen Nelson, representing Larson and Darby, unveiled two innovative layout concepts featuring the proposed new entranceway and locker rooms initially introduced on November 16, 2023. Both concepts strategically incorporated a repositioned slide tower in proximity to the existing diving well.

The slide tower is intricately designed, featuring one slide directing into the 50-meter main pool and an additional run-out slide. Notably, the location of the run-out slide differs between concept "A" and concept "B." While the project's base bid includes a single slide exiting into the main pool, an alternate concept with two slides will be bid, subject to budget considerations.

Moreover, each concept introduces concessions areas and party/camp locations positioned at varying spots. The wading pool (baby pool) rotates clockwise within both concepts. Importantly, a fast pass season pass entry is now situated on the pool's north side, closer to the tennis courts. Additionally, landscaping plans involve incorporating trees and shrubs on the east side of the pool footprint, adjacent to Route 23.

As the existing diving well does not meet the IDPH code, neither concept "A" nor "B" includes a diving well. In the February 23, 2023, Board of Commissioners Meeting, the diving well was identified as a potential alternate bid, contingent on budget allowances. Presently, Park District consultants do not foresee the inclusion of a diving well, given the additional $1 million would contribute to the overall project cost. Despite the absence of a diving well in the current concepts, the layout allows for future installation, contingent on funding, just south of the new slide tower location.

Following a comprehensive review of both concepts, the Board provided clear direction to the staff to proceed with the next planning steps, prioritizing concept "A." Over the next month, the staff will collaborate with Larson and Darby, IHC, and Counsilman-Hunsaker to refine the plans and will present an update during the Board of Commissioners Meeting scheduled for January 18, 2024.

Hopkins Pool Renovation Infrastructure Concepts
Hopkins Pool Draft Infrastructure Concepts as of 11/16/2023

During the Park Board Meeting held on November 16, 2023, the DeKalb Park District staff unveiled comprehensive concepts for renovating and enhancing the infrastructure at Hopkins Pool. The proposed plans encompassed various crucial elements, such as constructing a distinct entry building solely dedicated to the pool strategically separated from the entrance to the Community Center. The proposed upgrades also featured modernized ADA-accessible locker rooms, dedicated bathrooms for the Terrace Room, a new lifeguard office, storage rooms, family locker rooms, and a repositioned concession building.  It's important to note that the presented plans focused on the structural aspects of the facility, and the layout of the new pool itself is still in the process of being finalized.

Hopkins Pool History 

In the early 1930s, the League of Women Voters fashioned the idea of a park district system for the community of DeKalb, just as our neighboring community of Sycamore established in 1923.

Thus, in 1935, the DeKalb Park District was born! The addition of a new community pool to Hopkins Park was the first major project the Park District implemented during the summer of 1935.  Many additional community improvements followed the construction of the community pool.

In 1974, a new pool shell was built, as well as the diving well and locker rooms.

In 1989, the District implements facility upgrades with a 10,000 square-foot community center addition, including the pool's new big water slide. The small water slide was later added in 1990. It was around 1996/1997 that the 'kiddie pool' area was added with an interactive play structure and funbrellas. 

In 2003, a spray area and speed slide was added, however, in 2005, the speed slide was removed due to unforeseen safety concerns.  

In August 2020, the DeKalb Park District commissioned Larson & Darby Group with Counsilman-Hunsaker to conduct a pool feasibility study, evaluating the existing conditions of the aging aquatic facility and developed a renovation/replacement plan. Included in their planning process was obtaining and gathering community feedback while gauging the community's aquatic needs and wants. 

 The results of this study were presented to the Park Board in December 2020.

Fast forward to 2022, the DeKalb Park District Board and Staff were ready to continue with the next steps of the pool replacement project by exploring options, costs in a post-pandemic economy, and to continue gathering community feedback with another public survey and through a Community Pool Advisory Committee.  

Throughout the last ten months, staff along with Larson and Darby, have created, reviewed, and shared with the Board of Commissioners various concept designs. Estimated pricing for these plans ranges from $10 Million to beyond $16 Million. Staff were tasked to show a 20-year financial outlook for the District, to assist with the planning of the replacement of the current Hopkins Community Pool. The 20-year financial outlook was presented to the Board during the FY24 budget presentation in January 2023. Throughout the presentation, it was concluded the District could fund a 20-year bond for a pool project between $8 Million and $8.5 Million. As this price range was below the amount for any of the previous design options, staff presented the concept of revisiting the œRenovation Option last presented during the December 17, 2020, Board of Commissioners Meeting.

Staff believes an updated œ2023 Renovation Plan is a fiscally responsible option consisting of several of the recommended options from the DeKalb Community Pool Advisory Committee. Moving in this direction was discussed and approved by the Park Board at the February 23, 2023, Park Board Meeting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How would the pool renovation construction be funded? Construction would be funded through DeKalb Park District capital resources and long-term bonds.

Will there be a tax rate increase to fund a pool facility renovation? No, the DeKalb Park District is not seeking a referendum to fund the pool renovation. A new aquatic facility renovation would be funded by DeKalb Park District capital resources and long-term bonds.

What is a long-term bond? A long-term bond is the longest maturity bond offered, traditionally over a 20-30 year period.

What is the project timeline? During FY 2023-2024, March 1 through February 28, DeKalb Park District staff will begin the A & E (architecture & engineering) phase of the proposed pool renovation. Staff's tentative construction on Hopkins Pool would not begin until spring 2024, with the strong possibility of the pool being closed for the 2024 pool season and the renovated pool opening for the 2025 summer season (subject to change based on unforeseen product availability and construction timeline).

Will there be an indoor pool component to the project? No, currently, the proposed pool is for an outdoor aquatic facility only. 

Where will the pool be located? Throughout the planning process conducted with the Larson and Darby Group and Counsilman-Hunsaker, the Park District Staff and Board members prepared documents utilizing the current location of the Hopkins Pool Aquatic Facility, 1403 Sycamore Road.

What were the results of the most recent 2022 pool survey? The results are posted here with 830 responses. 

Where do I learn more about Hopkins Pool? Visit our Hopkins Pool page! 

Have more questions? Contact Executive Director, John Shea, Jr. at or call (815) 758-6663. 

Hopkins Park 

In addition to a Hopkins Pool renovation, we are excited to make several improvements at one of our most popular community parks!

Pickleball & Tennis Courts

The two current south tennis courts will be replaced by four dedicated pickleball courts. There will be new drainage, base, surfacing, and fencing with wind screens. There will also be an ADA-accessible access path and seating will be added to the area. The renovation includes a complete removal and rebuild. The two current north tennis courts will also see a complete removal and rebuild into two new tennis courts that will also be striped for pickleball.

Construction will begin on Monday, September 11, 2023. If the fall weather cooperates, it is possible that the courts will be completed in fall 2023; however, it is also possible that construction could bleed over into spring of 2024.

Court Concept Plan

Playground Replacement

Playing on playgrounds is an important activity for children of all ages! It provides a safe place to climb, swing, and play in ways that they cannot at home or in backyards. Although playgrounds are inspected and maintained regularly, replacing aging playground equipment is crucial in keeping our parks safe and fun!

Park districts typically replace playgrounds every 15-17 years. Hopkins playground was last replaced back in 2005, so it is time for a complete overhaul.

Current Playground Concept

Playground Renovation Timeline

The DeKalb Park District invited residents to participate in a public input meeting on August 8, 2022, at 6:00 pm at the Hopkins Park Playground to help choose the design for new playground equipment that will tentatively be installed in fall of 2023. Individuals unable to attend the Playground Public Input Meeting, were invited to take the Playground Survey Poll by August 16, 2022, to vote for their favorite playground design. See concepts below!

Public feedback concluded that Concept A (see concept below) was the preferred playground design, and was presented at the August 25, 2022, Park Board Meeting. It was determined at this meeting that the District would apply for an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant. If awarded, the grant would allow the Park District to expand the playground replacement by adding additional amenities and installing a poured-in-place surface as the base of the entire playground.

March 1, 2023, the DeKalb Park District received the news that we were approved to receive $507,000 towards the Playground Replacement Projects as part of the FY23 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant program. 

The Hopkins Park Playground will tentatively be under construction during the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024, with a Playground Dedication and Grand Opening in summer of 2024. 

Questions? Please contact Superintendent of Parks & Development, Mat Emken, at or call (815) 758-6663 x7276.

Playground Proposal 

Playground Concept A:

Playground Concept B: 

Pollinator Prairie Restoration Project

We're Putting Down Roots!

Project OverviewPrairie Restoration

A joint collaboration between the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District and the DeKalb Park District, the Pollinator Prairie Restoration Project aims at restoring native grasslands and wetlands at both Hopkins Community Park and Rotary Park.

The Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District (KWRD) began the process of converting 3.15 acres of mowed turf grass within the treatment plant facility, located at 1301 Sycamore Road, to native habitat in May 2017. This project was initiated in an effort to reduce mowing costs and lawn maintenance, as well as to improve the KWRD facility's ability to capture stormwater and reduce runoff.

With these sites in the KWRD facility now established and positively received, the restoration of additional acreage was discussed and encouraged by the KWRD Board of Trustees. In 2019, the DeKalb Park District informed KWRD of their desire to convert open areas of park property to native habitats. Subsequent discussion between the two organizations led to the determination that a cooperative partnership could allow for the economical implementation of these projects by drawing on the strengths and experiences of the two groups.

The Park District has designated two major areas to be restored to native habitat. One such area is within Hopkins Park, a roughly 78.5-acre park that consists predominantly of mowed lawn and large oak trees. The Park District has determined that between 3-7 acres of Hopkins Park would be a suitable location to begin engaging in native habitat restoration. This area is not heavily trafficked for recreational purposes, and so would not impede citizens' enjoyment of the park amenities. Additionally, a portion of the proposed Hopkins Park native habitats would be adjacent to a proposed KWRD native habitat. The Park District and KWRD are interested in the possibility of maintaining these adjacent habitats as one continuous unit.

The other major area that has been proposed for native habitat restoration is Rotary Park, a roughly 23-acre park located at 1504 State Street. Rotary Park is a recreational park that is comprised of two large retention ponds and a bike trail that forms a ring around them. The existing vegetation currently consists of mowed turf grass on the outer edge of the bike path, with a mix of mowed turf grass and some taller vegetation alongside the retention ponds.

Herbicide applications in select areas at both parks (see site maps below) by staff licensed by the State of Illinois, will take place in August and September 2020, followed by native seeds being planted sometime in October/November 2020.

Native habitat restoration is a process that requires patience, as it takes at least three years for the native plantings to become established. In time, the restored areas will return to a natural state that provides a safe ecosystem for local pollinators. This project is funded in part with the ComEd Green Region Program.

Explore the Restoration Areas

Rotary Park East | Rotary Park West | Hopkins Park East | Hopkins Park West

DeKalb Kiwanis Park Master Plan Information

The DeKalb Park District is in the process of creating a master plan for improvements to DeKalb Kiwanis Park (Fairview Dr. & S. 4th Street, DeKalb). The Park District has been working with Upland Design Inc. to develop concepts for park.

DeKalb Kiwanis Park is a community park with abundant green space located south and west of the Sports & Recreation Center. The park is currently utilized as soccer fields to AYSO and other soccer clubs and organizations. Additional land along Barb Blvd was also recently acquired from the DeKalb School District and is considered in the Kiwanis Park Master Plan.

Park concepts developed thus far include various soccer fields and additional amenities such as nature playground, splash pad, challenge course, pickleball and basketball courts, a pavilion, fitness stations, picnic shelter, restroom, a woodland exploration area, and dog park (Barb Blvd.).

Below are the concepts that have been discussed at community input meetings.

Please contact John Shea, Jr. Executive Director at with any questions regarding the Kiwanis Park Master Plan.

Check back here for updates as the plan and project continue!


Kiwanis Master Plan Concept:

(click image to enlarge)

Kiwanis Master Plan Concept

Kiwanis Park Master Plan - Barb Blvd Expansion Concept (Dog Park):

(click image to enlarge)

Kiwanis Master Plan Concept - Barb Blvd

Kiwanis Park Master Plan - Barb Blvd Expansion Concept (No Dog Park):

(click image to enlarge)

Kiwanis Master Plan Concept - Barb Blvd - no Dog Park


Welsh Park Improvements

Welsh Park Dedication Celebration

May 22, 2021,  1:00-3:00 pm, 651 Russell Road
Join the Park Board and staff for the Grand Opening of Welsh Park to celebrate the completion of our park renovation. Enjoy a ribbon-cutting, pop-up activities, and refreshments.

*Originally scheduled for May 15, due to rainy weather conditions, the Dedication was moved to May 22*

Construction Begins!

In late July 2020, local company Irving Construction began construction on the Welsh Park project. Select areas of the park will be closed during construction and the park improvement project is scheduled for completion in the Fall 2020. A Welsh Park Grand Opening/Park Dedication is slated for the Spring of 2021.

New Playground

The public voted on the new playground color scheme in early May 2020! Option C won with the most votes. Check out the winning design and color scheme below:

Welsh Color C

Grant Approved

The DeKalb Park District is proud to share that our community was awarded a $395,800 matching grant for the renovation of Welsh Park. Read the press release at to learn more.

Master Plan Information

At the special board meeting on July 30, 2019, the board approved a site master plan for Welsh Park. They also authorized moving forward with a grant application for OSLAD funds from the Department of Natural Resources for the project. The updated site plan is below.

Approved Concept Plan (click photo to enlarge)

Welsh Park Site Plan

Nature Trail Restoration Project

The following documents and links are intended to provide information about the Nature Trail Restoration as the Park District transitions through each phase of the project.

Tree Pruning


Asplund Tree Service is going to be side pruning on the Nature Trail on Wednesday, October 7, and Thursday, October 8, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. This is strictly prune back! No trees will be removed.

Arbor Day Celebrated with Nature Trail Shrub Planting


Arbor Day Shrub Planting Photo

On Friday, April 26th (Arbor Day), the DeKalb Park District coordinated a shrub planting along the DeKalb Nature Trail. Over 200 shrubs were provided by ComEd to be planted. Staff from the Park District and over two dozen volunteers from Encap, ComEd, and the community were on hand to plant the shrubs. The work took less than 2 hours with the many hands that were available. The Park District would like to thank all those involved in the planting effort! Also, thank you to Ecowater for their donation of bottled water for the event. See more photos from the event.

Nature Trail Restoration: Community Meeting Presentation (4/22/19)

Nature Trail Restoration Overview

North Section (1st St - Country Club Ln.)

Middle Section (Country Club Ln. - Greenwood Acres Dr.)

South Section (Greenwood Acres Dr. - Sycamore Rd.)

Nature Trail Phase Two information

Informational Materials...

Herbicide Use in Natural Areas

Herbicide Use in Natural Areas:

A Guide for Volunteer Land Stewards

Co-Presented by...

The Nature Conservancy | Illinois Preserves Commission

To view more information about this project, visit DeKalb County's website.

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