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updated: 1/30/2014 6:47 PM

Lake in the Hills to annex land for recreation, aquatic center

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Lake in the Hills residents might soon have a place to swim and recreate without their tax bills increasing.

The village is poised to annex roughly 27 acres along southern Ackman Road that the Crystal Lake Park District plans to develop into a community recreation center and outdoor aquatic center. The Lake in the Hills village board recently directed staff members to begin negotiating an annexation agreement with the park district. A hearing is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Feb. 11, before the village's committee of the whole meeting.

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The park district plans to buy the former Crystal Highlands Golf Course -- whose driving range, three-hole course and miniature golf course operated until 2012 -- for $625,000, said Jason Herbster, park district executive director.

The site currently falls within the boundaries of Huntley Park District, but the jurisdiction will transfer to Crystal Lake Park District once the sale is finalized, Herbster said.

Herbster said property taxes collected from the site currently go to Crystal Lake School District 47, and the land is flanked on the north and south by the park district, with Lake in the Hills to the west and unincorporated land within Huntley Park District on the east.

If annexed into Lake in the Hills, the property would be rezoned as an institutional building district, Herbster added.

At a recent Lake in the Hills village board meeting, some trustees voiced concern the village should garner some benefit out of the deal, said Dan Olson, village community development director.

"We're working with the district to draft an agreement," Olson said.

The village would collect fees from any future development on the site connecting to its water system, he added.

Olson said the village neither has an aquatic center nor plans to build one.

Herbster said Lake in the Hills residents would be able to use the park district facilities just like any other nonresident.

Nonresident rates for park district programs typically are 50 percent higher, but not more than $15.

"We haven't come up with any special rates for them at this point," Herbster added. "We'd probably get a fair amount of use from (Lake in the Hills) residents just because of the location."

There are other perks to having such amenities in Lake in the Hills' backyard.

"Facilities like this have been proven to increase property values," Herbster said. "Recreation is extremely important to peoples' quality of life. Whether or not they pay the taxes, it's still a benefit for them based on where it's located."

Building the aquatic and recreation centers may still take a while. The park district would have to borrow money for the projects, estimated to cost roughly $15 million. Conceptual plans show the aquatic facility could have capacity for 2,000 swimmers, and a 100,000-square-foot recreation center. The park district has no other pool facilities nor comparable recreation centers.

"We don't anticipate (either) being that big," Herbster said. "We would have to go to referendum to do projects of those sizes."

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