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Grounds and Natural Resources Management and Maintenance Campus

Studies completed in 2001, 2007, and 2022 have identified the need for an overhaul of the District’s management and maintenance campus at Blackwell Forest Preserve.  The existing campus is a collection of various buildings that have been retrofitted in attempt to meet the demands of the District over the past 60 years. These buildings are in various levels of deterioration and lack sufficient space for vehicle and equipment storage, locker spaces and bathrooms, and storage needs, nor do they meet the latest standards for occupational safety.

The existing campus is home to approximately 25% of the headcount of District employees and is home to the following District crews: Forestry, Landscape, Trails & Streams, Roads, Natural Resources Management, and Natural Resources Management Stewardship Coordinator Operations crews.  There are seven buildings that have a total square footage of approximately 30,000 square feet.  

During the schematic and conceptual design phases of the project, the District’s consultant will be evaluating the needs, equipment, and operations of the Grounds and Natural Resources Management crews to determine a design program, spatial requirements, construction phasing, permit requirements, and budget required to complete the project. All these deliverables will be considered and formed into a development plan for the campus that will become the basis for construction documents.

A key component of the project will be identifying opportunities to develop a campus that is sustainable and efficient in terms of energy, environment, and operations.  The District and consultant are exploring options including energy generation through solar panels, capturing rainwater for use as facility gray water and campus water needs, and reduced mobilization times through thoughtful layout of the facility.  In addition, the District will continue to protect the existing oak savanna centralized in the management campus and incorporate native vegetated stormwater systems including bio-swales and basins to mitigate and eliminate stormwater runoff.

Project FAQs


Status: In Progress

The Forest Preserve District hosted an open house to introduce the project to nearby residents. 


Woodhouse Tinucci Architect began work on the schematic design and design development phases of this project.


Knight E/A, presented their findings to the District’s Board of Commissioners for the Grounds and Natural Resource Management Operation Assessment and Logistics Plan. The study concluded that one centralized location would be the most desirable approach and that Blackwell Forest Preserve would be the ideal location for the campus. This was determined since nearly 22% of the work performed by District crews are done within a 9-mile radius of Blackwell and is adjacent to existing District facilities including the Fleet Management Building, Fuel Island, Nursery Complex and Facilities Management.


District advertised for Statement of Interest/Qualification and received 10 statements from qualified consultant groups.

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In 1965, the District acquired the property and original barn that still exist on the Grounds & Natural Resource Campus. In 1966, the District built an irrigation pond and started a nursery on the south side of Mack Road. Finally, in 1968, see picture below, the first Grounds complex was established using the existing barn and a new administrative building. Since 1968, this site has been home to the District’s Grounds Management and Natural Resource Management operations.


In June 2023, the Forest Preserve District board of commissioners approved a contract for schematic design and design development for the Grounds and Natural Resources Management Maintenance Campus. This contract is for $800,000 and will develop preliminary design and construction documents for the campus and the consultant will develop an opinion of the probable cost for the construction of the project. The project will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of this stage.

September 2023 Presentation