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updated: 7/11/2012 12:10 AM

Arlington Heights Park District refines improvement plans

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By David Conway

The Arlington Heights Park District board worked to narrow options for its long-range capital improvement plans at a meeting Tuesday night.

The discussion centered on the community center at Recreation Park. Park district Executive Director Steve Scholten identified the park as a linchpin on which plans at all of the other parks depend.

Presented with the option of preserving programming at Recreation Park in some capacity or limiting the facility to a bathhouse serving the pool during the summer months, the board agreed to work toward the former.

Board President Maryfran Leno, who advocated keeping programing at Recreation Park, said a move to keep the park's community center active was necessary because of the large population the park serves.

"Rec Park has the largest number of soccer teams (and) basketball teams out of that location," Leno said. "For us to, all of a sudden, remove an entire gym or not have any programming there at all? That would do a huge disservice to the numbers we do have factual information for."

After lengthy discussion and public comment, Leno summarized two plans for Scholten to present to the park district staff, one developed largely by her and another outlined by board Commissioner Robert Whisler.

The plans agreed on scaling back improvements at Camelot and Heritage parks, potentially keeping only one gym open at Frontier Park, and keeping improvements at Recreation Park mostly as stated in the master plan developed for the March referendum.

For Recreation Park, this would mean the current community center would be developed into a bathhouse, and a new center with a gymnasium and three program rooms would be constructed.

Both Leno and Naughton referenced a price below $40 million as a goal the park district should shoot for. The March referendum requested a $48 million bond.

Park district staff will now work to synthesize the direction of the board and present more narrowly tailored options at the June 24 board meeting -- with price figures attached. The filing deadline for a November initiative is Aug. 20; the board has aimed to finalize its plans at a meeting Aug. 14.

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