State OKs Allocating Grant to Willowbrook Master Plan
The $3 million will fund the first phase of a multiyear improvement plan at the DuPage Forest Preserve District's wildlife center in Glen Ellyn.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn will get $3.6 million in improvements, most of it thanks to the state’s approval to reassign money for the plan.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has given its OK for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage to reassign land-acquisition grant funds to cover improvements at the district’s premier wildlife rehabilitation center, where injured animals are nursed back to health and the public is educated about the biological and ecosystems current and native to this area.
“We are pleased to receive the state’s approval,” said Forest Preserve District President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr. in a July 10 statement. “There is strong public interest in supporting the Willowbrook master plan, and this grant money will help us begin the much-needed improvements there.”
In 2011 the district’s board of commissioners approved an ambitious master plan for Willowbrook, 525 S. Park Blvd., which includes a new visitor center and rehabilitation clinic, improved educational exhibits and program areas, expanded parking and trails, and habitat restoration. The estimated cost of the improvements in 2011 dollars is between $16.9 million and $21.1 million.
The reassigned grant will pay for renovations to the existing wildlife rehabilitation support facility to create additional rehab space to address increased demand, a permeable-paver parking lot, and landscaping and infrastructure improvements that will prepare the site for the construction of a new visitor center and clinic that are planned for LEED certification. Meanwhile, the district will pursue fundraising efforts to finance wildlife exhibit improvements at the center.
Construction for the first phase is set to begin in June of next year and is slated to be complete by April 2014, officials said.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County manages more than 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands, including Willowbrook.