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updated: 9/21/2011 5:58 PM

Some Carol Stream parks referendum money in doubt

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A drop in property values means the Carol Stream Park District may not be able to borrow all $37 million for improvement projects approved by voters last year.

So district officials are pursuing state legislation that would make sure it gets all the money. Without that change, the district might come up about $8 million short.

With a decline in equalized assessed values, the amount of debt the park district is allowed to carry also decreases, according to Arnie Biondo, the park district's executive director.

Under state law, the district would be required to repay borrowed funds within 25 years of issuing bonds, but officials are seeking to extend that limit to be able to fully borrow all $37 million.

"What we're saying is the bonds approved on Feb. 2, 2010 would be allowed to be issued," Biondo said. "The key to the whole thing is, this is the will of the voters. The voters said we want this work done. We're asking to not have, really, an arbitrary formula trump the will of the voters."

The referendum was approved by 57 percent of the voters following a major push by parks officials and communitywide surveys that indicated support for parks improvements.

Projects include a planned 88,000-square-foot recreation center near the Town Center, reconfiguration of baseball fields at McCaslin Park and a new dog park at North Avenue and Kuhn Road.

Officials broke ground on the McCaslin project this month, and the dog park is set to have a soft opening this weekend.

If the 25-year repayment limit isn't extend, the park district might be able to borrow only about $29 million, Biondo said.

That means some projects would have to be deferred, such as modifications to the Simkus Recreation Center, trail repaving, and some projects at Armstrong Park, Biondo said.

The park district board will prioritize the list of projects during a meeting on Monday, he said.