Answers to questions on Wauconda parks referendum
Wauconda Park District officials know the $4.75 million expansion plan for the village's community center isn't a lock.
The community's reaction to the proposal -- it would nearly double the size of the facility at 600 N. Main St. -- has been lukewarm. Only 50 percent of people surveyed this summer said they'd vote to fund the project or probably would back it, officials said. About 44 percent of the people polled went the other way.
Park district Commissioner Bob Cook is a fan of letting the people decide the project's fate.
"If they say this is what they want, God bless," Cook said. "And if they don't want it, that's OK, too."
The Daily Herald sought answers to important questions about the project. Here's what we asked and what we learned.
Q. What's the plan?
A. The proposal calls for a 10,000-square-foot addition to the 21-year-old building. An expanded fitness area, group fitness classrooms, an expanded dance room and an early-childhood classroom are among the proposed improvements.
Park district Commissioner Adam Schlick called the need for more space "overwhelming."
"Since its construction in 1993, the number of Wauconda Park District programs operating out of the community center has increased dramatically, while the usable space has remained the same," Schlick said. "Last year alone, the Wauconda Park District offered nearly 1,200 classes, representing a 70-percent increase in just five years."
Q. If the center is expanded, will more programs be offered?
A. Yes. Popular programs such as dance and fitness will be able to grow, and the staff will be able to create new classes and activities, Schlick said.
Q. How would the estimated $4.75 million price tag affect my property taxes?
A. If voters approve the plan, the owner of a house with an average value of $223,500 would pay an additional $72 in property taxes to the park district in the first year. The loan that funded the center's construction will be fully paid off in December. The net increase would be less than $39 starting in 2015, officials have said.
Q. Is there an organized, resident-led promotional effort?
A. None has surfaced.
Q. What about an opposition group? Have residents come together to fight the plan?
A. It doesn't look that way.
Q. If there aren't groups fighting for or against the plan, what about individual residents? Has anyone said anything about the proposal?
A. Yes -- on social media. People have spoken in favor of the expansion and against it on Facebook.
Q. So, what have they said?
A. Like the park district's poll, public reaction has been mixed. Some people have said they'd like to see more rooms for classes, programs and workout equipment. Others have criticized the plan's lack of an indoor swimming pool.
Q. Why isn't a pool included in the plan?
A. Money. "I would love to see a pool," Cook said. "But a pool is so expensive. And it's not just building a pool -- it's the ongoing maintenance and repairs." So, at this time, a swimming pool was left out of the plan.
Q. What's the next step if the community approves the project?
A. Park district staffers would "immediately" begin working with an architect on the final design and planning documents, Director Nancy Burton said. Construction could begin in early 2015.
Q. What happens if voters reject the project?
A. Park district patrons will continue to use the center as they do now. It won't close, nor has anyone threatened to cancel programs or events. "We'll continue to utilize the community center as best we can and get by as best we can," Cook said.
Q. Where can we learn more about the plan?
A. Architectural layouts and other documents are available at the park district website, waucondaparks.com.