A planned upgrade to the Centennial Park Lagoon on Evanston’s lakefront may be mostly cover by a private gift and a state grant.

City staff will ask the City Council tonight to approve an application for a state Open Space Land Qcquisition and Development grant for $400,000 — the maximum permitted under the state program.

Parks Director Doug Gaynor says a privae donor has promised a $500,000 donation toward the project.

That would leave just $100,000 of the projected $1 million cost of the project to be covered by the city’s capital improvement program.

The project, which Gaynor says will further goals of the Lakefront Master Plan the City Council adopted three years ago, would replace plumbing equipment and construct a larger maintenance vault at the lagoon “to provide functional equpment and safer operating conditions for staff.”

The hazardous condition of the maintenance vault was the subject of a recent Ponzi and Friends cartoon published by Evanston Now.

The project would also involve waterproofing the lagoon to reduce water consumption, rebuilding the existing waterfall to restore it and meet code requirements, rebuilding walkways to bring the facility into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and installing new “dark sky” pedestrian light fixtures.

Top: The lagoon as seen during the Ethnic Arts Festival last July. (Matt English photo.)

Related document

Proposed lagoon project description (.pdf)


Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Lagoon upgrade

    Any upgrade to the lagoon should include plans to offer ice skating with access to the "warming house," improved lighting and a commitment by the city to maintain a safe and usable ice surface. 

    1. Agreed– no need to have the lagoon be only a warm weather spot

      The lack of attention to the lagoon skating area in recent years has been an embarrassment.  Not that many years ago we could enjoy a great skate on a nice sheet of ice (even under the lights) and use of the warming area.  Recent years, not so much, as the maintenance of the ice has been extremely shoddy and the warming area has been closed.  Last winter the opportunity was there for weeks of great winter fun at the rink, but there were only a very few days when the ice was skateable, and then only on a part of the surface. 

      If we are going to sink a half million into the area, let's make sure we are able to used it in the winter months.

  2. An Amazingly Generous Donor

    Wow! A $500,000 private gift to renovate a public space. I hope this generous private donor will be recognized. There's a lot of money in this community and it's nice to see someone share such a significant amount in a manner that will publicly benefit all of us. Whoever you are, thank you!

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