Endorsements: Yes to St. Charles rec center

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 3/14/2015 7:52 PM

Residents of the St. Charles Park District through a community survey in 2013 said they want a place where they can work out, play sports, walk year-round and more. After much planning on the part of the park district and three committees, voters will get to decide whether to commit $28 million to acquire and develop land and build a facility that would provide just that.

For now, the park district has one gymnasium -- at Pottawatomie Park on the riverfront -- but that is insufficient for residents' needs, park district Executive Director Holly Cabel says. There are simply too many people competing for space. For instance, basketball leagues and pickleball are impossible.


Gymnasium space is the driving force behind a proposed new facility in James O. Breen Community Park, west of Randall Road between Route 38 and Campton Hills Road.

The new facility would have 33,000 square feet of gymnasium space and an elevated indoor track. So, why build a fitness center attached to it when there are privately-owned fitness centers in town? Because without a fitness center, the gym space wouldn't have a prayer of generating enough revenue to make a facility self-sustaining, Cabel said. The $28 million load would be paid back over 20 years and cost the average homeowner another $60 to $90 a year. Fees, which have yet to be set, would run about $35 for a single person or $70 for a family. Cabel said a walking-track-only pass or a senior pass are being discussed.

In addition to the gym space, track and fitness center, the $28 million also would cover preschool space, multipurpose space, pickleball courts and development of one or more all-weather turf fields that could accommodate multiple sports.

Given the high level of interest in youth sports in St. Charles, the results of the survey that spawned this idea and the relatively benign cost per homeowner to build it, we support a yes vote to build a comprehensive recreational center.

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