Elmhurst Park District narrows scope, cost for capital improvements

By Julia Locanto
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 2/12/2020 1:36 PM

Elmhurst Park District is moving to reduce the scope and cost of its Vision 2020 capital improvement plan by more than half before bringing it before focus groups next month.

The district originally planned to ask taxpayers for $105.2 million in a referendum question this spring to pursue six major projects. But feedback from a community survey indicated a lack of support, with many respondents wanting a lower-cost option.


The potential price tag for the district's revised proposal, which it hopes to put to voters in November, is $51.8 million.

Original plans called for an indoor sports center, a new adult center, a dog park, the expansion of Wagner Community Center, land acquisition for more outdoor space and improved park maintenance.

The board already has eliminated the proposed indoor sports facility, scaled back plans for park maintenance and is considering dropping the dog park from its November tax increase request.

It also is considering two options for the Wagner expansion: either build an addition or construct an entirely new center, keeping only the portion of the existing building at 615 N. West Ave. that's used for gymnastics.

Executive Director Jim Rogers said the survey showed support for a larger gymnastics facility to accommodate the fast-growing program. With that in mind, he suggested placing a gymnastics center in the new building and using the old area as courts for basketball, volleyball and other sports.

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The gymnastics area would be 30% bigger, include a viewing area and would not add to the estimated cost of a new center.

"With it being cost neutral, there would be almost no reason not to do it," Rogers said.

The board also hopes to renovate the Eldridge Park Recreation Building and consolidate all early childhood programs into one site. That would happen only after the Wagner renovation is completed, however, so officials are leaning toward keeping the project separate from the referendum question.

As for the adult center, the board is considering three options to include on a potential referendum. Merely renovating the existing Abbey on St. Charles Road to meet code would cost $700,000. Remodeling and expanding it would cost $3.3 million. Demolishing the building and starting new construction would cost $6.6 million. No decisions have been made on which to bring to focus groups.

"The key consideration here is reducing the referendum," Rogers said.

The board hopes to finalize its new proposal by Feb. 24.

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