Price tag leaves future unclear for Wheeling rec center expansion
The Wheeling Park District's proposed expansion of the Community Recreation Center has a $25 million price tag, leaving members of the village and park boards wondering if they can afford the plan or if they have to scale it back.
The two panels are discussing how to move forward with the proposal, which includes incorporating the village's senior center as part of an expanded rec center.
Among their options: cut back on the scope of the project, complete the project in phases over several years, ask taxpayers for more money through a referendum, and/or locate the senior center elsewhere.
"We'll all have to put our heads together to decide what we'll do or what we don't do," park board President Keith Pecka said. "We're not going to make everybody happy."
The 20-year-old rec center has outgrown its current space at 333 W. Dundee Road, Pecka said.
"So, no matter if seniors come or not, we're busting out the seams over there," he said.
As part of the expansion talks, the park district and village have discussed moving programming from the senior center to the rec center. The village recently sold the senior center building at 199 N. First St. to Greek American Rehabilitation and Care Centre.
Village President Dean Argiris said the park district would be a great location because many of the programs seniors want are recreational, such as fitness classes and swimming.
"Our senior population has grown tremendously, and it's a more active and new generation of seniors," he said. The proposed $25 million expansion would include a warm water therapy pool, an indoor turf field, a fitness area, a kids corner and a senior wing. The fitness area would include rooms for group fitness classes and a larger exercise floor.
The senior wing would include a banquet hall, a library, a crafts room, a billiards room, a technology room and a kitchen, where cooking classes could be held.
The village would fund the senior activities wing, Argiris said. Although the village received $875,000 from the sale of the current senior center, a proposed senior wing at the rec center would cost $4.7 million to $5.8 million, according to estimates.
Argiris said the village staff is working on a plan to come up with the difference.
All other costs, such as the indoor turf and fitness area, would be funded by the park district.
The park district will conduct a communitywide needs assessment, which Pecka said will help guide commissioners in finding priorities for an expansion.
In a joint meeting Monday, elected officials raised concerns ranging from whether the center has enough parking to whether kids and seniors would mesh well at a shared facility.
A full report, including estimated operating costs, will be sent to each board in the next two weeks. A steering committee then will give suggestions to the boards within the next 30 to 60 days, Argiris said.
"We're setting a new standard here where different taxing bodies are working together," Argiris said. "In light of what's happening in Springfield, I think we'll see a lot more partnerships coming."