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posted: 1/23/2013 12:17 AM

Arlington Park Board votes to renovate Camelot center

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The community center at Camelot Park in northern Arlington Heights will be renovated and expanded at a cost of $5.5 million, the Arlington Heights Park Board decided on a 4-1 vote Tuesday night. The commissioners decided to use a $2.5 million state grant for the project.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources gave the grant specifically for the Camelot field house at 1005 E. Suffield Drive. After residents twice turned down large bond issues that would have paid for park renovations throughout the village, park officials said they would rather spend the grant money on the more centrally located Olympic Indoor Aquatic Center. However, convincing state officials to allow the change would be difficult.

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The district will also spend something under $3 million for outdoor renovations at Frontier Park, 1933 N. Kennicott Drive.

Rob Nesvacil voted against the Camelot project, saying people in that area and throughout the village made their feelings clear by rejecting bond issues of $48 million in March and $39 million in November.

The money above the $2.5 million grant will come from district reserves and smaller bonds that the district can sell without voter approval, said Steve Scholten, executive director.

While the district's financial adviser has said that after paying for these projects the district would have to wait at least 10 or 15 years to sell bonds for funding another major construction without a public vote, Scholten said the length of time will depend on how the debt is structured.

While a few residents of the Camelot neighborhood expressed support and gratitude for the improvements, a few from other parts of the village urged the board to reject the grant and not borrow money.

The additional money "will have to come from the reserves or hit the district with additional interest expenses on additional debt," said Susan Waterloo.

The board also decided a walking track should be built above Camelot's new gymnasium, even though it will require an elevator. When the walking track was eliminated to save money on the reconstruction of the Pioneer Park community center, 500 S. Fernandez Ave., in 2008, residents complained, said commissioners. And they said a track at the same floor level as the gym floor would cause difficulties.

"We missed the boat at Pioneer," said Myles Naughton, a commissioner. "I look at the track as being necessary. It will get very good usage and help with overall usage of the center."

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