Communitywide surveys in Carol Stream in 2004 and 2008 indicated support for a recreation center, among other park upgrades.
And in February 2010, 57 percent of voters approved such work, in a $37 million bond issue.
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On Monday, park district officials broke ground on what will become a 90,846-square-foot rec center -- the largest construction project in the park district's history.
"Today really marks the beginning of something we've been working on for years," said Board President Brenda Gramann. "This is for and by the residents of Carol Stream."
The two-story facility will be built at the Town Center near Gary Avenue and Lies Road. It will feature a three-court gymnasium, 25-yard swimming pool, fitness center, running track and program rooms.
Last week, the park district board awarded a contract for building construction to Riley Construction Company. The firm's $18,229,055 bid was the lowest of seven -- and more than $664,000 less than the next closest bidder.
That's just under the architect's estimate of $18.3 million. Earlier estimates put the construction cost closer to $20 million, to include a 5 percent contingency fund, contractors fees, furniture and fitness equipment. The low bid includes about $304,000 in project alternates, including ceramic tile on the pool deck, fire proof coating on gym framing over the track, and precast thin brick on the outside walls of the gym.
Earlier this month, the park district received a $2 million state capital construction program grant to be used for the project's cost. It's also received a $117,000 county stormwater grant. Park officials say that frees up money from the referendum that can be used on other projects, such as park trails. But they've also said that some of the referendum funding -- as much as $8 million -- may be in doubt because of a decline in property values.
That means the amount of debt the park district is allowed to carry also decreases.
The district is currently required to repay borrowed funds within 25 years of issuing bonds, but officials are seeking passage of state legislation to extend the limit to be able to fully borrow all $37 million.
If not, some projects might be deferred. Already, the park district has broken ground on ballfield upgrades at McCaslin Park, opened a new dog park and installed new playground equipment.
Crews will officially begin construction on the rec center next week, with major work to take place after winter. At the height of construction, as many as 150 workers will be on site, according to Chris Siefert, division manager of Riley Construction.
Officials expect the project to take 16 to 18 months to complete, with a grand opening tentatively scheduled for fall 2013.