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updated: 3/21/2012 1:13 AM

Project rejected, Arlington Hts. park board must regroup

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  • The center at Recreation Park in Arlington Heights was built in 1937 with the help of money from the Works Progress Administration, a federal jobs program during the Depression.

       The center at Recreation Park in Arlington Heights was built in 1937 with the help of money from the Works Progress Administration, a federal jobs program during the Depression.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Arlington Heights Park District must evaluate how to improve four of the district's five major parks despite the defeat of a $48 million bond issue Tuesday, said Maryfran Leno, president of the board.

"It's disappointing," she said. "But we're very pleased with voter turnout. There's evidence that the voters are pretty closely split in regard to being for or against it. We need to figure out what we're going to do and regroup."

With all 61 precincts reporting, the bond issue failed by 634 votes -- 5,762 "yes" votes and 6,396 "no."

All totals are considered unofficial until all the votes are canvassed.

Leno said the park board has no contingency plans in the event of defeat at the polls and at this point has no plans to put a question on the ballot in November.

"A lot of people recognize something needs to be done," regarding the parks, she said. Leno suggested some supporters might have assumed the issue would carry and "forgot to go vote."

The park district had proposed major renovations to the four parks, including new centers at three of them.

Three of the four park centers -- Camelot, Frontier and Heritage -- were built in 1969, and the fourth one, Recreation, was built partially with WPA funds in 1937.

The district's fifth regional park, Pioneer, received a new center in 2008.

Park district officials believe that a 2009 survey and master plans developed with community meetings supported their decision to make the proposal and try for the tax increase.

Opponents said $48 million is a lot of money, people are hurting in bad times, and the town could probably settle for improvements costing less.

District officials said if the issue passed the owners of a $300,000 home would see an average $36 annual increase in property taxes over what they are currently paying. The increase is greater, however, if the fact that other bonds are near retirement is considered, meaning taxes would drop without the new bonds.

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