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updated: 6/11/2014 10:48 AM

Hanover Park sees potential in youth sports complex

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  • "It just seems to have fallen down the list of priorities," Trustee Bill Cannon said of plans to create a sprawling youth complex on this land, a project outlined in the village's new strategic plan.

      "It just seems to have fallen down the list of priorities," Trustee Bill Cannon said of plans to create a sprawling youth complex on this land, a project outlined in the village's new strategic plan.
    Mark Black/Daily Herald, December 2012

 
 

You live in Hanover Park, but you identify more closely with the bedroom community's neighbors.

That's the dynamic that's troubling village officials in their new strategic plan, a blueprint for the next three years.

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Trying to foster civic pride and bring together residents on the north and south sides of town, officials see promise in reshaping property along Barrington Road into a sprawling sports complex.

It's an opportunity to improve the high-profile area and add new recreational amenities like soccer fields and bike paths.

But since taking over the site in 2012 -- Hanover Park inked a 39-year lease with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District -- the village hasn't invested in a major project there.

Officials envision new lighting, landscaping and fencing, among other cosmetic upgrades.

Today, the property looks "worn out and tired," Trustee Bill Cannon said.

"It just seems to have fallen down the list of priorities," he said.

Coming up with the necessary funding poses the biggest hurdle for a makeover, officials say.

"We may have some grandiose plans for those fields, but we can't even start that unless we know what the future holds," Mayor Rodney Craig said.

In 2012, trustees agreed to overturn a ban on video gambling as long as the revenue generated for the village would go to the sports complex and other youth programs.

In April, the village's share of revenue from four establishments totaled $5,009, according to the Illinois Gaming Board's latest tallies. The state's cut was $25,048.06.

"We're building up a nest egg to be able to look at a more costly project," said Craig, adding that the village also is searching for state grants.

For years, Hanover Park has tossed around ideas for the site, including a nine-hole golf course.

A youth complex is a chance to leave an impression on the families who tune into youth football and baseball leagues that play on existing fields there, many of them visitors to Hanover Park, Cannon said.

And a youth complex is part of a larger scheme to build community identity in the strategic plan, unveiled last week before the village board.

With no downtown and students spread across several school districts, the village "often feels like the 'land caught in the middle of all the surrounding communities,'" the plan stated.

In southern neighborhoods, where there are fewer village facilities, residents identify with Bartlett, Bloomingdale and Carol Stream. It's a weakness that drives down participation in Hanover Park events, officials found after starting the process of updating the strategic plan in fall 2013.

A complex offering of activities could hold the key to that sense of connection to Hanover Park, officials say. But as they work to plug a roughly $600,000 deficit projected in 2015, the village should be "conservative on new ventures," Craig said.

"It's a work in progress," he said.

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