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The following article was published in the Carol Stream Press on Thurs, Nov 19
Park district seeks $37 million for new recreational center
Carol Stream residents could benefit from a new recreational center with an indoor pool as well as additional bike paths throughout the village, if the park district receives voter approval on a $37 million referendum.
The Carol Stream Park District will ask the community to approve a $37 million referendum for the creation of a new recreational center on February’s ballot. The money would fund new facilities to help accommodate the 38-percent population increase in Carol Stream since the last recreation center was built in 1989, according to the park district’s Director of Marketing Services Julie Vogl.
Vogl said even though the referendum will not result in a tax increase, the park district will still need the public’s approval.
“This will be a zero tax rate increase. This plan will refinance and issue bonds at lower interest rates to pay for the improvements and maintenance,” said Vogl. “This will extend the payments by several years, but the payments will not increase. We did the same thing for the referendum in 2000, and it worked.”
The owner of a $300,000 home currently pays about $370 a year in park district taxes, according to Vogl. If the referendum is passed, this amount would stay the same in the near term, and possibly even decrease by about $30 by 2020 if no additional bonds are issued, Vogl said.
Currently, Carol Stream uses two recreational facilities — the Simkus Recreation Center and the Aldrin Community Center. While Simkus will stay in use, Vogl said Aldrin will probably be redeveloped into a large covered pavilion with flush toilets.
“(Aldrin) is out-of-date and only has two usable program rooms,” she said. “We can’t build a new recreation center there because the entire park is flood plain.”
If granted the referendum, the park district would build a new indoor recreation center complete with an indoor pool, indoor walking track, exercise center and classrooms, indoor playground, a multi-purpose room for parties and performances and a gymnasium.
“We’ve worked so hard to make sure we are doing what the community wants,” said Vogl. “The needs have been consistent. I was surprised when they asked for an indoor pool.”
Currently, the village is in an intergovernmental agreement with Bartlett to use its swimming pool facilities, since Carol Stream’s pool closed down in the Aldrin Community Center in 2006.
Kristee Bylls has lived in Carol Stream for five years. Her three-year-old daughter takes gymnastics classes at Simkus Recreational Center and also swimming lessons at Bartlett’s facilities. Though she said Simkus provides adequate gymnastic facilities, she wishes Carol Stream had its own pool.
“It would be nice if we had a closer and more local indoor pool,” Bylls said. “It’s a good winter activity when the weather is nasty.”
In addition to the new recreational center, the park district wants to use the money to partner with the village to expand and connect bike and walking trails throughout the community. This would make Carol Stream better for walking and biking — something Vogl says is a high priority to residents.
The money would also go to lighting for parks and trails, sports field improvements to alleviate flooding, an off-leash dog park and a plan for long-term care and maintenance.
Vogl said taxes will most likely not cover all the costs of the new recreational center. Carol Stream residents will receive a discounted rate and priority registration on programs and memberships, and the park district plans to provide free access to residents for the indoor walking track.
If the referendum is passed, the park district would begin working on projects immediately. They expect the recreation center to take two to three years to complete. The preferred location is the Town Center at the intersection of Gary and Lies roads.
Since spring 2008, the park district has been conducting surveys, focus groups, interviews and public open houses to identify the top unmet needs in the community. The park district created a Steering Committee of 12 residents to aid in its research. The committee presented its recommendations to the board Oct. 26.