By changing the location of a planned recreation center, West Chicago Park District officials did more than convince a majority of voters to approve the $15.5 million project.
The 65,000-square-foot facility at Reed-Keppler Park is expected to debut "at least two years" sooner than it could have opened at its originally proposed location in downtown West Chicago.
Park district officials downsized the plan and switched locations after voters in the spring rejected a property tax increase to pay for the facility. The revised proposal was approved last week by about 51 percent of voters, according to unofficial totals.
Gary Major, executive director of the park district, said he believes residents appreciated that the project's overall cost was reduced by about $4.4 million.
"The timing was good in the sense that we're long overdue for this," said Major, referring to how the district has a limited amount of indoor space.
Meanwhile, Major said, there was a lot of positive feedback about moving the project to Reed-Keppler, already home to athletic fields, a skate park, Turtle Splash Water Park, Wiggly Field Dog Park, playgrounds, trails, picnic pavilions and other amenities.
One of the benefits of building the recreation center at Reed-Keppler is that construction can start as soon as the plan is finalized. Right now, construction is scheduled to start next summer.
As a result, Major said, the facility is expected to be completed "at least two years, if not three years, sooner" than it could have in downtown.
Major said the goal is to open the recreation center in the summer or fall of 2014.
Once built, the recreation center will have a walking/jogging track, an area for seniors, a fitness center, multipurpose gymnasiums, dance studios, event rental space and an indoor playground.
The project will cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $60 more a year in property taxes, officials estimate. Right now, that same homeowner pays about $239 a year to the district.