Sportsman's Park, activity center on Naperville district's to-do list
Opening the Knoch Knolls Nature Center likely was Naperville Park District's biggest accomplishment this year, but two other major projects remain on the horizon.
Renovations and soil cleanup at Sportsman's Park should be completed next, and the park district plans to break ground in the spring on the Fort Hill Activity Center.
Funding for those projects and others totaling $20.6 million comes from the district's 2015 budget, which is set for a vote Dec. 16.
The budget calls for $56.2 million worth of spending supported by $42 million in revenue. It is expected to increase taxes by $4 for the owner of a $304,700 home, which is the average in the district.
Although the park district plans to spend $14 million more than it expects to take in, money to cover the deficit is on hand in reserves, said Sue Stanish, finance director.
The Fort Hill Activity Center takes up the largest chunk of next year's capital spending at $14.7 million.
Staff members are submitting building permit applications to the city and preparing to seek bids soon for the $23.5 million project. Brad Wilson, director of recreation, said the center will have two gyms, a gymnastics area, four multipurpose rooms, a child care area, an indoor playground, a cafe, a fitness area, dance studios and a track.
The park board recently approved an $185,890 increase to the $1.2 million contract with Williams Architects of Itasca because of extra design work to make changes after a $2.5 million state construction grant came through.
Executive Director Ray McGury said much of the grant has to be put toward environmental upgrades such as permeable pavers and a bioswale for the parking lot, a higher-quality roof and a higher level of energy-efficient mechanical units.
"We wanted to upgrade some things to bring down the operational cost of the building and extend the life," McGury said.
The grant also expands the activity center's budget from $21 million to $23.5 million. Construction is expected to begin this spring, and the district aims to have the 79,000-square-foot, two-story center at Quincy Avenue and Fort Hill Drive completed by fall 2016.
Sportsman's Park is the other major project, and it's running slightly behind. Work to clean up lead contamination, replace the trapshooting stations, add a parking lot with permeable pavers, make accessibility improvements, add a walking path and pave the access road was supposed to wrap up this year.
Rainy periods last spring and cold weather this fall delayed the project, said Eric Shutes, director of planning. More soil needed to be removed than expected, which caused the park district to incur roughly $700,000 in additional costs. The district has spent $4.9 million on Sportsman's Park cleanup since a study in 2012 determined there was lead contamination in the soil at the range, where shooters used lead pellets for decades before they were banned in 1998.
But the new trapshooting stations have been installed and the area is expected to reopen for sport shooting later this month.
"The other key priority of this project is to open up the site to the community," Shutes said.
Other work planned for next year includes tennis court renovations at Ashbury Park, Ranchview Park and DuPage River Sports Complex, bridge replacement and playground renovations at Hunters Woods and $240,000 worth of upgrades to the Riverwalk Eatery, which will be getting more outdoor seating and an improved menu.