Willowbrook Master Plan
In April 2009, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund a new master plan for Willowbrook Wildlife Center, a native wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Glen Ellyn. Every year, Willowbrook provides care and medical treatment to thousands of native injured, orphaned and migrant wildlife in DuPage County. The center also attracts over 120,000 annual visitors who enjoy self-guided tours of its exhibits, nature trail and butterfly garden and attend nature-based educational programs designed for children, adults and groups.
As the numbers of animals admitted for care, visitation and programming have increased at Willowbrook over the years, so did a necessity to accomplish a modern master plan for the center. After all, the center’s former master plan was completed 18 years ago, and many of Willowbrook’s structures require renovation and updates to carry it into the future. A new plan would afford the Forest Preserve District an opportunity to re-evaluate the facility and its amenities and allow Willowbrook to better accomplish its rehabilitation and education objectives.
The Forest Preserve District hired Wight & Company, an architectural design and engineering firm, to create a master plan for a modernized center and the surrounding 48-acre Willowbrook Forest Preserve. They conducted an inventory and analysis of the site, held meetings between the Forest Preserve District’s Planning and Willowbrook staff, performed a public survey, determined goals and objectives, and developed preliminary concepts.
In August 2010, the District presented a master plan concept during an open house. The master plan concept was then also posted on the District’s Web site and available at its headquarters and at Willowbrook for a 30-day comment period. After, the plan concept was refined and cost estimates were generated.
On March 1, 2011, the Board of Commissioners approved the Willowbrook Master Plan. The master plan incorporates improvement and expansion of the existing building, expanded visitor parking, reconfiguration and replacement of the outdoor animal exhibits area, restoration of wetlands along Glen Crest Creek and expansion of animal enclosures on the east side of the preserve. In addition, the site’s features allow the preserve’s rainwater runoff to be conserved for re-use and education purposes.
In 2011, it is estimated the plan costs between $16.9 million and $21.1 million.