The Kenilworth Village House

Major Gift and Special Recognition Levels

If you raise your paddle or donate $2500 or more, you will get your name on the Benefit Board as well as the Donor Wall at the Village House. If you raise your paddle or donate up to $2500, you will get your name on the Benefit Board at the Village House.

Project Overview

  • The plan for a revitalized Kenilworth Village House has been created jointly between the Park District and School District. The current Village House dates from 1964 and no longer adequately serves the needs of our community and puts Kenilworth at a competitive disadvantage compared to our neighboring communities with regard to our ability to offer high quality extracurricular programs, both academic and athletic, to the children of Kenilworth. The revitalized Village House will help Kenilworth maintain it status as a highly desirable place for new young families.
  • Representatives from the School Board and the Park District Board, in consultation with the Village Board, have worked for several years on the design, financing, and timing aspects for this project as well as gathering and incorporating community input.
  • The proposed design is 20,000 sq. ft. in size and will meet the Village’s need for decades to come.  Accompanying the building will be a rebuilding of Cumnor Road north of Melrose that will meet current fire safety standards while maintaining its current character as a quiet, non-thoroughfare street.  In addition, the project will complete the Green Bay trail along the railroad tracks to the train station.  This will be a major safety enhancement to the School as it will remove high speed bicycle traffic from the blacktop.
  • The project will be financed entirely through existing resources and charitable donations.  No increase in the property tax assessment from either the School, the Park District or the Village will be required.

Project Benefits, Costs and Funding

What are the expected benefits of this project to the community and its residents?

  • State-of-the-art building revitalizing aging educational and recreational infrastructure.
  • Amenities include:
    • Outdoor courtyard and patio, and indoor welcome area
    • Onsite staff
    • Streamlined secure access
    • Two large high-tech multipurpose rooms for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) studies and community meeting space
    • Conference room and configurable meeting space
    • Junior High regulation size gymnasium
    • Enhanced physical education and recreational offerings for students, as well as a dedicated recreation facility for all residents 7 days a week
    • School cafeteria
    • Two full sets of restrooms (one set will have outside access).
    • Caterer kitchen
    • Additional storage, including dedicated areas for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
    • Rooftop garden and meeting space
    • Improved landscaping and enhanced outdoor recreational space
  • Facilitates community-wide educational and recreational programs that are competitive with offerings of neighboring communities.
  • Increases revenue through new and expanded fee-based after school enrichment programs.
  • Enables modifications to existing space at Joseph Sears School to better address identified and evolving student and faculty needs.
  • Provides indoor and outdoor meeting and gathering space for local organizations and residents.
  • Optimizes facility use and potential revenue through better alignment of programming and events between the Kenilworth Assembly Hall and new Village House.
  • Minimizes disruption during the school year by allowing summertime maintenance and renovation projects at Joseph Sears School, previously impacted by Park District use of school facilities, during this time.
  • Keeps Kenilworth competitive with other villages along the North Shore……

What is the total cost of the project and how will it be funded?


This is a collaborative project between the School District, Park District and our stakeholders, the taxpayers of Kenilworth. The projected cost is estimated to be $11 Million, and it will be financed within the current tax levy.

The project will be funded by the following sources:

  • $5.5MM
    Park District Bond Issue secured by lease payments from the Joseph Sears School.
  • $1.0MM
    The Joseph Sears School Foundation & JSSPVA.
  • $4.5MM
    Raised Privately from Residents and Interested Parties.

In addition, the Park District is seeking to raise at least $500,000, as a capital reserve for the building.

This project seems very expensive. Have you balanced design and cost?


We have worked with our architects to appropriately size the facility for identified needs and uses within the smallest footprint. The cost of this project has been our focus from the start, and will continue to drive our decisions moving forward.

Why isn't the Park District directly funding more of the project cost?

  • While the Park District owns the current Village House, the Park District receives only 2.2% of the Kenilworth tax dollar, and does not have the ability to create a capital reserve for a project of this magnitude.
  • The School District receives 41.3% of the Kenilworth tax dollar and has the resources, but not the space, to site and fund a project of this magnitude.
  • Collaborating on this project is a “win / win” for Kenilworth residents, as no tax increase is associated with the project. Whether the School District, Village, or Park District finances the project, the funds allocated come from resident tax dollars.
  • The project will not require a referendum.
  • This project is a good use of our tax dollars, as it expands and enhances critical infrastructure requisite to addressing the needs of our community and residents.

How do you expect to privately raise $4.5 million?

  • We have identified residents with the capacity and interest to provide leadership gifts, if community-wide support can be demonstrated. To that end, we are engaging in active outreach with the broader community on several fronts.
    • With the full support of the JSSPVA, a benefit supporting the Village House will be held next May in lieu of the Joseph Sears School annual benefit. A Benefit Committee tasked with reaching out to Kenilworth’s organizations and leadership teams to educate them on the project and solicit grass roots financial support is in place and focused on their mission. All proceeds from the benefit will support the Village House project.
    • In addition to the Benefit Committee, we are establishing a committee charged with identifying and cultivating major donors. The committee will be comprised of School and Park District representatives, as well as interested Kenilworth residents.
  • As the vehicle to accept tax deductible donations for the project, we are establishing a 501(c)(3) named “Friends of Kenilworth – Dedicated to Youth and Community Enrichment.”
  • We expect a limited number of naming options and donor recognition opportunities will be available for all donor levels.
  • The Village House project will not commence until sufficient private funding is in place to complete the project, and any funds remaining at the end of the project will be added to a capital reserve for the building.

Timing and Logistics

What is the expected timeline for the project?

  • Fundraising commitments by Q2 2019
  • Final Drawings Q3 2019
  • Construction Contracts Q4 2019
  • Construction begins Q2 2020
  • Construction completed Q3 2021
  • Access/Usage Available 2021/2022 School Year

How will construction impact Joseph Sears School and Townley Field?

  • The plan is to build a construction road located where the proposed Green Bay Trail extension would be placed. This will allow construction traffic to enter on Richmond Road and be staged on the current baseball field.
  • We expect most of Townley Field will be accessible during construction to minimize any impact upon the school’s activities and athletics.

Design & Project Elements

Is the design for the new Village House finalized, and has resident input been incorporated into the design process?


  • Many of the design elements are substantially complete based upon anticipated uses of the building, but a number of areas still require refinement including:
    • Storage Space
    • Spectator Viewing
    • Security System
    • Final Construction Materials
  • While, considerable community input has been incorporated into the present design, additional feedback is welcome. A small Design Committee comprised of Village residents is being created to help finalize the design. Persons interested in serving on this committee should contact either Scott Wallace or John Hart.

Why is the proposed building so large relative to the current structure?

  • The new facility is optimally sized for its anticipated uses, and its design reflects a balance between size and cost. Any measurable changes increasing recreational, storage and meeting space beyond the proposed footprint will impact cost.
  • We have explored the logistics associated with accommodating the existing Pee Wee Field underpass or adding a basement to reduce the building’s footprint. Both options would add significant cost to the project, and further encroach onto Townley Field.

Are the construction materials finalized?


The current drawings are computer generated representations, so the renderings do not properly illustrate the proposed building materials. The final design will include architectural elements found throughout Kenilworth to ensure that the new Village House is in keeping with the atmosphere of the community. As the final materials selected will impact the cost of the building, we will work closely with our Architects to balance appearance and cost.

Are Cumnor Road and the Joseph Sears School Blacktop impacted by the new Village House project?


  • Cumnor Road will be widened to comply with existing Fire Safety Code, and in emergency situations the Blacktop area will be cleared by School or Park District staff to allow access for emergency vehicles and personnel.
  • Cumnor Road residents are supportive of this project as long as the end-product doesn’t adversely impact current traffic levels and the widening is consistent with minimizing impact upon the existing parkway and the trees.
  • To mitigate traffic, signs at the corner of Melrose and Cumnor will be posted noting that the block is a dead end for local residents’ use only.
  • Costs related to Cumnor Road and the Blacktop enhancements are included in the total project cost.

Does the project include storage space for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts?


  • While the Village House project could move forward without reconfiguring the Green Bay Trail, extending the Trail along the train tracks has long been a desire of many Kenilworth residents.
  • The Green Bay Trail’s circuitous route through Kenilworth results in many bike riders ignoring the existing Trail layout by cutting through the Joseph Sears School teachers’ parking and blacktop areas in order to access Cumnor Road. Relocating this portion of the Green Bay Trail in concert with the new Village House construction will mitigate existing safety issues on school property, while connecting the Trail seamlessly with that of our neighboring suburbs.
  • Additionally, a clear delineation between the Green Bay Trail and Townley Field will help curtail the unfettered entry to nonresidents, which currently exists.

What is required to extend the Green Bay Trail along the train tracks?

An easement and lease must be secured from the Union Pacific Railroad in order to use land adjacent to their tracks. While there is sufficient room to reconfigure the Trail along the train tracks without encroaching on Townley Field, negotiating an easement with the railroad has been glacially slow. The Village has been running point on this matter for several years, and they have recently been advised that the Union Pacific is reviewing our request to extend the Trail in earnest. This is likely in response to the tenacity of the Village buoyed by letters of support from Government officials, neighboring villages and the Active Transportation Association.

How much will the Green Bay Trail extension cost?

The projected cost of the Green Bay Trail is estimated at $500,000 – $600,000. This amount could be offset to the extent we are successful in securing government grants.

Who will be responsible for ongoing Green Bay Trail maintenance costs?

This responsibility will be finalized between the Park District and the Village, in concert with the lease agreement with Union Pacific.

How will the Green Bay Trail be landscaped?

  • New landscaping is expected to be part of the total project cost. The Park District and Garden Clubs will work together to design and maintain the landscaping.
  • Additionally, we intend to solicit donations restricted to maintaining the Green Bay Trail and its landscaping.


Is the Village House Project necessary?


  • The last substantive investment in Kenilworth’s recreational and educational facilities occurred in 1969 with the construction of the Junior High School building.
  • Current infrastructure limits our ability to offer a suite of community-wide educational and recreational enrichment programs competitive with those of neighboring communities.
  • The existing facility cannot be reconfigured to address these factors.
  • Synergies between the Board of Education, Kenilworth Park District and Village make the project viable.

Who will oversee this project to ensure that construction is on time and on budget, and performed in the best interests of the residents?

  • We are evaluating whether to use a general contractor or construction manager to lead this project. Both options have checks and balances in place to manage the construction timeline and budget, and our architects will provide an additional level of oversight during the project.
  • While a general contractor provides one point of contact throughout the project, a construction manager can be nimbler in vetting subcontractors and yielding cost savings that inure to our benefit. Representatives from the School District and Park District with project management experience will also be involved throughout the construction process.

Is this project a prudent use of taxpayer resources?


  • Improves security at the Joseph Sears School and new Village House.
  • Broadens educator offerings to students, and enhanced recreational programming to all residents through new and improved facilities.
  • Meets the educational and recreational programming demands of our residents by investing in our outdated infrastructure.

Why is the School District financing this project through the Park District when they have sufficient reserves to fund this project?

The collaboration between the School and Park Districts creates synergy:

  • Allows for infrastructure improvements to the current school building and classrooms while concurrently providing necessary space to meet existing and anticipated educational and recreational programming needs of the school and community.
  • Promotes optimal use of the new facility through coordinated programming between the School and Park Districts.
  • Efficiently matches tax dollars with mission by splitting operating costs of the new Village House between the School and Park District.

Can turnover in the Joseph Sears School administration impact this project?


Leadership of and authority for this project are vested solely with the School Board.

Has this “shared use” model been implemented with success in other communities?


  • Budget limitations have made this model increasingly popular in the public sector. Our architects have extensive experience in this area, and they have incorporated this expertise into the project design.
  • Collaborative shared use optimizes facility usage and resource management.

Will the Kenilworth Park District be able to operate the new facility without the necessity of a future tax increase?


  • The Park District has successfully provided additional programming opportunities to the community and significantly improved the financial results of the Kenilworth Assembly Hall, since assuming operation of the facility two years ago.
  • The Kenilworth Park District in collaboration with Joseph Sears School expects to offer new fee-based after school and youth enrichment programs, as well as broader community-wide fee based programs on evenings, weekends and during school breaks that will generate sufficient revenue to offset the operating costs of the new facility

Will Townley Field be impacted by the project?


The current baseball field, which has been used primarily for practices and pickup games, will be forfeited to accommodate the footprint of the new Village House. A baseball backstop with grass field will be relocated on Townley Field for individuals and teams to practice. The existing chain link protective fencing will be removed providing improved sight lines to Townley Field and the new Village House.

How do I learn more about or get involved in this collaborative community project?


School District
Mindy Kelly (773) 230-1149 /
Scott Wallace (312) 543-3988 /

Park District
John Hart (847)609-0500 /

Julie Ruck (847) 254-2962 /
Cathy Bartholomay (773) 203-3010 /

Supplemental Information

Kenilworth Park District Funds
Ongoing Contributions/Planned Giving Opportunities

The Village House Fund (new)

A 501(c)(3) named “Friends of Kenilworth – Dedicated to Youth and Community Enrichment.” All donated funds will be used to support the original construction with excess contributions held as a capital reserve for ongoing improvements and/or maintenance to the building and grounds. Donations to this fund may be designated for the Green Bay Trail. These designated funds will be used for ongoing improvements and/or maintenance to the trail and surrounding area.

The Marguerite L. Storch Memorial Garden Fund

This fund, established in 1998 to honor of Marguerite L. Storch, supports beautification projects in Kenilworth. The interest/dividends of this perpetual fund are distributed annually pursuant to specific requests geared towards improving the gardens and parks around Kenilworth. The corpus of the fund is approximately $1MM. Persons interested in contributing or learning more about this fund should contact Heidi Higgins, President of the Kenilworth Park Board.

Friends of Kenilworth Assembly Hall

This fund, established by the Kenilworth Club in 2015, helps support capital improvements made to the Kenilworth Assembly Hall, which are consistent with the historical standards of the facility. Persons interested in contributing or learning more about this fund should contact Peter Hufton.