On April 4, residents will have the opportunity to determine the long-range future of parks and recreation in La Grange Park by voting on two ballot measures that will decide if the Park District should add a gymnasium with recreational amenities at 1501 Barnsdale Road.
Adding a gymnasium and new lobby would provide additional community-building recreational activities and generate the funding needed to expedite capital improvements in the parks throughout La Grange Park. To do so, the park district is asking residents to consider two funding measures to make this possible, and both need to pass to initiate the project. Adding a park-district run gymnasium to La Grange Park has been discussed since before 1998. The park district's recent Master Plan process indicated that the addition of indoor recreational space is now a priority for La Grange Park residents. 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 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
Allow for a secured entrance for Ready Teddy Preschool AND summer camp.
This will provide a better customer service area
Improve security for the facility
Provide homework nooks and comfortable seating for visitors
Parking lot and adjacent park redesign - Replace the existing playground - Improve gathering spaces in Hanesworth Park
The Community Park District has a phenomenal relationship with D102 and hosts the majority of our Fall, Winter, and Spring programs at Park Jr. High. However, should the school district need the space we currently occupy, the opportunities we offer would no longer be available. Currently, we host the following at D102 facilities:
Footlight Players Youth Theater Performance: We offer 2 productions with 4 performances each year. Each production attracts 80-100 youth actors for each performance. Not to mention, hundreds (300+) spectators come out to watch each performance!
Adult Sports are at Park Jr. High! Volleyball, Wiffleball, and our new Indoor Pickleball Leagues are all held at Park Jr. High
Spring Dance Recital: Our youth dance program attracts hundreds of participants and their capstone performance is at the theater at Park Jr. High.
Saturday Morning Sports: Our youth instructional athletic classes are all held at Park Jr. High.
No! If the referendum passes, the park district would continue our relationship with the school districts and offer NEW and expanded programming like After School Care, expanded pickleball, open gym, and expanded summer camp. PLUS we'd be able to run recreational programming like Senior Movies and Preschool or Yoga and Dance classes simultaneously.
If both measures pass, La Grange Park residents with a home that has a fair market value of $300,000 would see $20/month increase in their tax bill. A home with a fair market value of $500,000 would see a $33/month increase in their tax bill.
Despite managing and maintaining 26 acres, 6 parks, a recreation facility, parks maintenance facility, and employing up to 8 full time and 45-50 part time employees each year, the Community Park District of La Grange Park levies less than the La Grange Park Library.
La Grange Park residents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year at neighboring recreational facilities, and every one of those dollars goes directly into improving the parks and facilities in those communities. While the Community Park District of La Grange Park may never offer aquatic opportunities, we can bring back some of the money spent in other communities back home by offering open gym, indoor walking space, youth basketball developmental programming, after school programs, birthday parties, group exercise classes, and more. This revenue would then go back into our parks and facilities, making La Grange Park a better place to live, work, and play.
There is little to no open space left in La Grange Park. The Community Park District board and staff worked hard to develop a smart design that would allow for future expansion, up! The existing plan provides infrastructure that would allow us to add a green roof to the top of the proposed gymnasium as well as administrative and meeting space above the new lobby. This smart design would free up space to renovate the entire existing facility to expand early childhood and youth programming rooms (more preschool, more summer camp, more after school!), AND offer additional active recreational space for anything from soccer to yoga to even possibly a playground on the roof.
First and foremost, there isn't a lot of space left in La Grange Park. Forest Road School is arguably the closest "Center" of La Grange Park, and while 1501 Barnsdale is pretty far north in the 2.5 square miles that make up La Grange Park, we are evenly centered east to west, making it as equitable a location as possible. Furthermore, with the district's limited resources, it would not be possible to staff two recreation locations. Lastly, the Village of La Grange Park has a comprehensive land-use plan that clearly defines areas they would support recreational activities, and Hanesworth Park tops that list.
On April 21, 1953, the voters of La Grange Park passed referendum to issue a $200,000 bond and invest in the construction of an amphitheater, tennis courts, playground, two baseball diamonds, and a brick field house in Memorial Park.
The Community Park District went to referendum in April of 1998, asking for a permanent 13-cent increase in the corporate fund rate, from 10 to 23 cents per $100 assessed valuation, on the ballot. The measure lost by 26 votes. The tax increase was put on the ballot again in November and lost by a margin of nearly 2-1.
Instead of asking for a blanket increase to permanently raise taxes, the Community Park District is asking 2 questions:
Should the park district issue $10.7 million in bonds to build a Gymnasium. This would result in a *temporary *tax increase that would cost the owner of a $500,000 home in La Grange Park $27.91/month and would expire after 20 years.
Should the park district increase the tax rate by 0.038% for the annual operation of the gymnasium and future park improvements? This would result in a permanent tax increase that would cost the owner of a $500,000 home in La Grange Park $5.08.
The tax rate referendum question is equal to a 3-cent ($0.03) increase in the tax rate, instead of the 13-cent ($0.13) increase requested in 1998. This would generate an additional $150,000 in annual tax revenue for operational costs like electricity, supplies and general maintenance. Once the gymnasium becomes self-sustaining, the $150,000 would be reallocated into park maintenance, along with any surplus revenue generated from programming.
Both questions need to pass to initiate the project.
Consolidated General Elections are incredibly important as they focus on local issues that directly impact your tax dollars and your quality of life. The Community Park District Board of Commissioners feels that this issue is important enough to be the focus of the April election. The next opportunity to ask this question would be the Presidential Election in November of 2024, where the issue of recreation in La Grange Park would have to compete with national issues for attention.