Carol Stream's Horizon Park ready for debut

After three failed attempts to build a new Carol Stream public library on land along Kuhn Road, officials are preparing to unveil what they call "the next best thing" on the site: the new Horizon Park.

Proponents couldn't drum up enough support for the new library, with voters rejecting the plan three times. Then in 2013, the library board considered the sale of the land, receiving a $1.35 million offer from nursing home developers.

Those talks died after a shake-up on the contentious board. Newly elected trustees opted to take the property off the market in December 2013. And this spring, the board signed a deal to lease it to the park district for $1 a year.

Now, officials are prepping - a few final touches need to be completed - to formally open the park, just south of College of DuPage's satellite classrooms in Carol Stream. The park district has spent roughly $25,000 to convert the land into Horizon Park and add a 9-hole disc golf course, among other improvements.

A ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, when officials won't be cutting ribbons, but instead, tossing discs into a target on the course's first hole (all are a par 3). The walkable park takes up about five acres of the land, and the course is aimed at disc golf players with "midlevel" skills, park district Executive Director Jim Reuter said.

The 20-year pact gives both sides the flexibility to opt out without penalty, Library Director Susan Westgate says.

What would trigger the library to drop out of the deal?

If it was hit by an unexpected, "massive" financial cost, the proceeds from selling the land could boost the library's pocketbooks, board President Ed Jourdan said.

"From the day I started as a trustee, I was never shown convincing evidence of why we needed to unload that property like it was diseased, if you will," Jourdan said.

Or, if down the road, the library found itself "bursting at the seams" or deteriorating past quick-fix repairs, the land would still be available for a new facility, Jourdan said. Currently, there is no untouched property in Carol Stream that would accommodate such a project, Jourdan said.

"If we let go of it, that is it," he said. "We are landlocked as a community."

Within roughly a year from late August, the board will hire a real estate agent to assess the value of the land. The board also plans to replace the parking lot, possibly in the fall, depending on how bids come in.

"It is showing its age," Jourdan said.

But for the "foreseeable future," the park is the right fit, Westgate said.

"It is the best conceivable scenario," Jourdan said.

  Carol Stream Park District is leasing the land for Horizon Park from the library for $1 a year. Bev Horne/
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