Elmhurst Park District puts brakes on Vision 2020 plans

 
By Julia Locanto
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 12/18/2019 5:19 PM

Elmhurst Park District is putting the brakes on its long-term Vision 2020 improvement plan -- at least temporarily -- including extending the time frame of its contract to purchase the Kieft Brothers Inc. property at 837 S. Riverside Drive.

The park board originally wanted to place a referendum question on the March primary election ballot to nearly double the district's property taxes to raise $105.2 million for six major capital projects.

 

But a survey this fall of 1,100 registered voters showed little support for the funding plan, which would have cost the owner of a $500,000 home roughly $497 more a year.

The plan called for a new adult center, an indoor sports center, a dog park and expansion of Wagner Community Center. It also included plans to obtain more outdoor space and improve park maintenance.

Some survey respondents said they supported a more refined and economical plan.

Park board members this week made it clear their priority is addressing the community's wants before moving forward with the project. After meeting Dec. 3 and Dec. 9, the board decided Tuesday to postpone the referendum question until November 2020.

"Just because the survey results were not what we had hoped for right off the bat doesn't mean that the community doesn't want these things to happen," Executive Director Jim Rogers said.

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The adjustment includes delaying the purchase of the Kieft Brothers Inc. property, meant to be used for an indoor sports facility. It would cost $57 million to build the center on the 16.4-acre site.

After negotiating the purchase contract, Rogers said the $15 million sale will now be contingent upon passage of the referendum question in the Nov. 3 general election.

"The board is ensuring that it has additional time to consider this property," Rogers said. "It does not obligate this body to eventually move forward with this land."

Additional changes include six different plans for Vision 2020 that cut out certain aspects of the project. The park board also decided on a new timeline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The first steps are to determine whether to refine the projects based on the survey results. Officials say they will create possible ballot questions and then conduct another survey in May to help determine which projects have the most support and how to best fund them.

A final decision must be made by Aug. 17 on whether to go to referendum in November.

"I think it's a sensible timeline," Commissioner Carolyn Ubriaco said. "It gives the community another chance and us another chance."

"I think the community will be ten times more informed," board President Vince Spaeth said.

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