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posted: 10/5/2010 5:36 PM

Lisle Park District to buy $4.6 million building

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Lisle Park District plans to purchase a $4.65 million building late this fall near its current headquarters to replace the aging Meadows Center that the district has leased for more than 20 years.

The district plans to borrow about $7.25 million to buy the $3.15 million building at 1925 Ohio St., directly west of its Community Center on Short Street, as well as to pay $1.5 million to upgrade the facility for recreational use.

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Another $1 million of the total will fund other capital projects in the district and the remaining $1.6 million will pay for infrastructure maintenance and repairs to areas such as trails and tennis courts throughout the district for the next three years.

Officials said property taxes will not increase because the district already has the power to borrow and pay back $7.25 million over the course of 20 years.

"We are kind of front loading, but this leaves room if something comes up down the road without needing to go to referendum," said Dan Garvy, director of parks and recreation. "In 2013, another $1.5 million will be freed up to issue per year if needed. We need flexibility for land acquisition, a catastrophe or anything unforeseen."

The new building will replace the Meadows Center, which the district currently leases for about $125,000 a year from Lisle Unit District 202. Officials say the 45-year-old Meadows Center costs too much to operate and lease and poses other challenges.

"We knew renting the Meadows was not a long-term solution because it was too expensive and the building was deficient; it was built as a school and not a multipurpose space, plus there are occasional parking issues" Garvy said.

The purchase of the 38,000-square-foot building comes about two years after voters rejected the district's request to borrow $21.9 million to build a brand new 85,449-square-foot recreation facility to replace both the Meadows Center and the Community Center. Officials say the current arrangement serves as an alternative that will better meet programing needs without raising taxes.

The Ohio Street building is set to house the park district's preschool, as well as general interest and early childhood programs. Administrative offices will move from the Community Center to the new facility.

Meanwhile, the Community Center will continue to house a fitness center and will provide space for active adult programs, fitness classes and multipurpose uses. Garvey said it will be a better use of the building, which is not adequately fitted with power and heating features for office space.

"If we put it back to its original purpose as a more open space, we can live comfortably until the community has the support to do something different," said Garvey. "This new arrangement with both buildings leaves the landscape pretty wide open for the future to grow in the way the community desires."

Officials said they hope to finalize the purchase of the Ohio Street building by Dec. 1 and an architect is now working on a floor plan. Heating, air conditioning and lighting are already installed, since the building is currently home to Amphenol Corporation and Micro Sun Technologies, manufacturing businesses that will remain in the building until the end of March. Park district construction is slated to begin in April and Garvy said he hopes the building will be ready to host preschool next August.

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