Parks, Planning and Projects

Welcome to the Department of Parks and Planning section of our website.

We're responsible for maintaining the Wilmette Park District's 314 acres of parks, which include the 59-acre Gillson Park on Lake Michigan's shore, 12 tot lots, baseball, football and soccer fields located throughout the Village of Wilmette.

We are also involved in many special projects around the Park District, from huge to tiny. In this section, you'll learn about what we're doing lately, and read updates on large projects underway.

August 29
Thank you for taking our Gillson Roadways Survey.
We will share results with you soon!

April 26
We're Planting Trees!

On Saturday, April 16 our Parks and Planning staff planted 19 trees within Gillson, Centennial, Hibbard and Howard Parks! And, we're working with the Village of Wilmette to add four trees to the parkway around Centennial Park this spring.

Look for more trees around our parks, thanks to a collaboration between our staff and the Village of Wilmette, who will be developing a long-term tree plan for the parkways around our parks and facilities this year.

Heads Up: Tree Maintenance Work in Coming Weeks
You may notice crews in our parks in the next few weeks, trimming branches. This is part of routine maintenance to help our trees thrive. Sadly, a hazardous cottonwood tree in Gillson Park must come down this week. It breaks our hearts when we must remove a mature tree. However, after consulting with two arborists, it was agreed this tree has reached the end of its life cycle and is so rotted that it poses a hazard, so it must come down.

April 21
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT GILLSON PARK: for those interested in understanding the facts about the Wilmette Park District's plans for Gillson Park, please read our Q&A, here. Please email us here with any questions you may have.

Thank you!

Project Updates


West Park Enhancement Project Update

At the April 11 Park Board meeting, the Board of Park Commissioners discussed details regarding the proposed enhancements to West Park, which received a negative recommendation by the Wilmette Zoning Board of Appeals on April 6.

Commissioners examined all aspects in depth: sound, light, parking, green space, and the community's response. At the end of the discussion, the Board voted 6-0 (with Allison Frazier absent) to modify the conceptual plan.

The existing concept will be scaled back to reduce the proposed number of platform tennis courts from four to two, (to be located south of the currentcourts) and completely eliminate the proposed pickleball courts and associated lighting. The currently-proposed expanded paddle hut, associated decking, and parking reconstruction remains in place.

West Park's playground will remain in its current location. Plans to update playground equipment have been put on hold pending further analysis.

Board Members and staff will present the modified conceptual plan to the Wilmette Village Board for consideration of a special-use permit on April 26.

Notable items discussed:

  • Lighting - assuring appropriate shields, functional timers, minimally acceptable brightness levels
  • Potential for additional discussion with sound, light consultants
  • The importance of tree replacement, landscaping and additional plantings
  • Reasons for expanded hut size related to capacity limits
  • 10 p.m. vs. 11 p.m. "lights out" at paddle: 11 p.m. is industry standard, and negatively impactful to adjust, given league parameters
  • Acknowledgement of West Park neighbor concerns, and the need to balance them with the recreational interests of the community

Langdon Shoreline Stabilization Project Update

  • At the April 11 Board of Park Commissioners regular meeting, Vice President Goebel reported that SmithGroup has started the permitting process, which could take up to
    90 days. After permits have been obtained, revetment work can begin.

Lakeview Center Renovation Project Update

  • Quinn Corporation has been selected to manage the project as General Contractor. Drawings will be ready to send to bid in coming days. Work on the Lakeview Center is slated to begin fall 2022.


Maple Park Playground Renovation

  • The temporary construction fence has been installed at Maple Park. Estimated project completion is early June 2022.

Village Stormwater Project

  • Construction for the Community Playfields restrooms is scheduled to begin the week of March 28. The project will include the relocation of the irrigation pumps, and a structure that will contain a men's, women's and ADA bathroom with storage space for park maintenance and recreation staff. Connected to the bathrooms will be a shade structure for park visitors. The estimated completion date is late October 2022.


Maple Park Playground Renovation

  • Good news came on February 21! The playground equipment has shipped and is on the way. The Maple Park Playground renovation has an estimated start date of March 7 (weather permitting).


Langdon Shoreline Stabilization Project Update

  • At the January 10 Lakefront Committee meeting, commissioners received an update about the Langdon Shoreline Stabilization project, and reviewed three proposed concepts with revetment and access options for the shoreline. The Committee is now analyzing each option and has requested additional information, including projected cost estimates.
  • Click Here to download and view the presentation and concepts.


Gillson Comprehensive Plan

  • At the December 13 Regular Park Board Meeting, designers presented an update that focused on circulation patterns at Gillson Park, specifically relating to Middle Drive and Upper Drive.
  • CLICK HERE to view the Regular Park Board meeting video.
  • Click Here to download and view the presentation.

Landscape Master Plans

  • At the December 13 Regular Park Board Meeting, the Board approved Landscape Master Plans for Centennial Park, Community Playfields, Hibbard Park, Howard Park, Maple Park, Thornwood Park and Vattmann Park. The plans include details on current conditions, and recommended plantings for each park.


Maple Park Playground Renovation

  • On November 30, Maple Park Playground construction was officially postponed until 2022, due to uncertainty of the estimated delivery date for the playground equipment.
  • The Village of Wilmette approved the necessary permits for Maple Park Playground construction

Gillson Comprehensive Plan

  • At the November 8 Regular Park Board Meeting, consultants for the Gillson Comprehensive Plan presented a report on the Fall Community Engagement meetings, and shared the feedback they received regarding the four proposed park concepts. The consultants also presented a fifth concept, created based on community input gathered at the fall meetings.
  • CLICK HERE to view the Regular Park Board meeting video.
  • CLICK HERE to download and view the presentation.

Village Stormwater Project

  • Representatives of the Village Stormwater Project presented at the November 8 Regular Park Board Meeting. A summary of the status of the project was given before delving into details for Phase III of the project at Thornwood Park.
  • CLICK HERE to view the Regular Park Board meeting video.
  • CLICK HERE to download and view the presentation.