BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – The Build McNair committee continues to spread word around the Elburn, Kaneville and Sugar Grove area about the proposed development for a 60-acre public open space and youth sports complex that would be situated in Blackberry Township, northwest of Route 47 and Main Street.
Most recently, the group had a major kick-off event Sept. 24 at Elburn Lions Park called “Movie Night for McNair” where attendees enjoyed a free family night under the stars with live music, a special screening of the movie, “Ice Age: Collision Course,” raffles, concessions, and most significantly, the opportunity to learn more about the potential development that could have a lasting impact on youth in the area.
“The whole intent of the movie night was to raise public visibility, to have some fun as a community, and to bring in some money for the project,” said Tom Guernon, director of marketing and development for the Kaneland United Soccer Club. “We’ve been talking to a lot of local clubs, trying to get volunteers to help build private funding, and as a start, this was a huge success. We had a couple hundred people come out and we hope to turn this into an annual event like the Sugar Grove Corn Boil and Elburn Days.”
Blackberry Township approved the engineering for the Build McNair site and it’s now in the hands of Wheaton-based landscape architects Planning Resources, Inc. The Township as well as the Build NcNair committee can apply for grants to assist in funding the major effort.
“We originally had applied for a [Kane County] Riverboat Grant to cover most of the costs,” Blackberry Township Supervisor Fred Dornback said. “So we had significantly reduced the cost of the engineering project.”
The proposal stems from the need for fields for children to play baseball, soccer, lacrosse, football and other sports on, combined with some issues that have limited the use of neighboring fields. Those include the soccer club’s use of Kaneland High School being affected due to repairs to the TransCanada Pipeline Upgrade Project, Elburn Youth Baseball losing access to the current McNair baseball diamond, Kaneland Youth Football being forced to move multiple times and the possibility that the Sugar Grove Park District could lose access to Wheeler Park.
“This is modeled after the Stuart Sports Complex [in Aurora] and James Breen Complex [in St. Charles],” Guernon said. “From a soccer perspective, if we wanted to do a larger event we couldn’t do it at the high school space because of field quality and number of fields so this will be much more accommodating.”
Guernon said he’s hopeful that the Build McNair committee will continue to grow as it reaches out to more area youth sports programs and community members, asking them to assist in making an impact so that this project becomes a reality. Those interested in joining the effort are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, there is a capital campaign, “Be a Builder, Buy a Brick,” where donors can purchase engraved bricks that will be permanent parts of the park. Ultimately, the plan is incorporate Build McNair as an independent nonprofit and convert it into an operating board that would manage McNair Park, which would be quite similar to the current structure at Elburn Lions Park.
Visit buildmcnair.org for information.