On Friday, January 13, the Community Park District Board of Commissioners voted to place two measures on the April 4 ballot to generate needed funding for the addition and operation of a gymnasium with athletic and recreational amenities at 1501 Barnsdale Road. On April 4, residents will have the opportunity to determine the long-range future of parks and recreation in La Grange Park.
Why is the Community Park District placing a referendum on the April 4 ballot?
The Community Park District (CPD) is looking for direction from residents to determine the long-range future of recreational operations in La Grange Park. The measures on the April 4 ballot would fund the construction and operation of a gymnasium to be added on the existing recreation center at 1501 Barnsdale Road in Hanesworth Park. Based on feedback from taxpayers, this would allow CPD to provide expanded recreational programming and opportunities within the community, while at the same time, generate funding that would expedite capital improvements in the parks throughout the community.
What improvements would be funded by the voter-approved referendum?
The proposal is focused on the following site and facility upgrades:
Adding a gymnasium with recreational amenities to the existing recreation center
The gymnasium would include one basketball court and flexible athletic space that can be used for a wide range of indoor athletic opportunities such as pickleball, baseball/softball, soccer, badminton, etc.
Addition of indoor walking space
Addition of a concession windows and restrooms with outdoor access which eliminates the need for the existing outbuilding which is past its useful life and has significant structural and ADA accessibility issues.
The gymnasium would be built with infrastructure that could support the development of a green roof for additional seasonal recreational opportunities.
Adding a new lobby and entrance to the recreation center
This will provide a better customer service area
Improve security for the facility
provide homework nooks and comfortable seating for visitors
Allow for a secured entrance for Ready Teddy Preschool.
Parking lot and adjacent park redesign
Replace the existing playground
Improve gathering spaces in Hanesworth Park
What are the ballot measures and how much would this cost?
The Community Park District is asking voters to consider *two funding measures that - if passed - would cost a home with a fair market value of $500,000 approximately $33 per month *(less than the cost of a family sized pizza). Here is the breakdown:
$10.7 million in funding to build a gymnasium and improve the existing site. If approved, this measure would cost residents owning a home with a fair market value of $500,000 approximately $27.91 per month, or $335 per year.
0.038% limiting rate increase that would provide and additional $150,000 in funding for utilities, maintenance, and operational costs each year. This measure would cost residents owning a home with a fair market value of $500,000 approximately $61 per year or $5.08 per month.
2021 Oak Avenue School Acquisition Analysis
The Park District has been exploring indoor recreational space expansion since 1998. When the American Nuclear Society Building/Oak Avenue School became available in 2021,the Community Park District board and staff evaluated the feasibility of acquiring and retrofitting the Oak Avenue School for recreational purposes. This process included focus group meetings with the community, facility tours, actual operating cost analysis, and more.
Acquisition and Renovation: $9.5-$16.5 Million: The initial cost of acquisition would have been at least $2.5 million. While the building is well cared for, it is not ADA accessible, does not have modern life/safety infrastructure such as sprinkler systems, and would need to be retro-fitted for recreational use. At the time, the park district estimated that renovations to restore the gymnasium and theatre, add required life/safety systems, and retrofitting only a portion of the facility would have been approximately $7 million.
Required initial investment: $9.5 million. At the time, the park district's Referendum Bond limit was under $7 million.
Additional Annual Operational Costs: $800,000-$875,000 annually
Preliminary estimations indicated that utilities (not including water) and routine maintenance of aging infrastructure would have cost a minimum of $225,000 a year, based on 2020 actual numbers. Applying inflation and increased utility cost and increased user capacity, this number would likely skew closer to $350,000-$400,000 annually today.
Estimated annual IT costs ranged from and additional $25,000-$50,000 per year
The park district estimated a minimum increase of $425,000 annually in staffing costs to program, maintain, and operate an additional facility of that size.
Zoning: Village officials indicated that even if the park district had the funding to acquire and renovate the facility, it was unlikely that the village would approve rezoning of the property for recreational use. The Village's Land Use and Comprehensive Plans indicate the only likely area where the village would support or approve any kind of recreational facility expansion would be in or adjacent to Hanesworth Park.
Tax Impact: In order for the Community Park District to acquire and begin renovation of the Oak Avenue School, residents would have had to approve a bond issuance and limiting rate increase that would increased taxes paid to the park district by as much as, if not more than, $695 per year for those living in a home valued at $500,000**.
**Figures presented are unaudited estimates based on the 2019 property tax bill