Villa Park to receive $10 million state grant for new recreation center

  • A $10 million state grant has been officially approved for Villa Park to begin building a new recreation center in Lions Park.

    A $10 million state grant has been officially approved for Villa Park to begin building a new recreation center in Lions Park. Courtesy of Williams Architects/Aquatics

Updated 6/29/2022 5:24 PM

A $10 million state grant has formally been approved for Villa Park to build a new recreation center in Lions Park.

Villa Park board officials shared the news during a village board meeting on Monday. Trustees unanimously voted to accept the state grant.


"We just got (the grant approval) last week. So we're moving forward," said Greg Gola, Villa Park's director of parks and recreation. "We've been meeting with the architects on a biweekly basis. And hopefully, within a month, I'll come to the board with a little bit of a more formal presentation on where we're at."

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources conditionally awarded the $10 million grant last September from its Build Illinois Bond Fund.

But to access the grant money, Villa Park officials faced a March 2022 deadline that required a formal submission of a recreation center site and scope plan, along with proof that the village could raise the remaining funds necessary to build the project within a two-year time frame.

Villa Park had been exploring the possibility of a recreation center, working with Itasca-based Williams Architects/Aquatics on plans since 2018.

The village made sure to have several public input meetings on the featured amenities of the proposed 41,525-square-foot building. For example, a ground-floor gymnasium and second-level walking/running track made the initial cut, while the idea of an adjoining outdoor aquatics center did not.

Villa Park also finalized the sale of nearly $7.5 million in bonds with days to spare before submitting its recreation center application back to the state.

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While congratulating Gola, Villa Park Village President Nick Cuzzone said, "This is great: the long termination of a long process."

Gola said next steps for the project include having a hazardous materials analysis on the current Lions Park building at 350 E. Wildwood Ave., which is slated for demolition. He also revealed his department is interviewing three construction management teams.

"We'll be coming to the board for approval of a construction management team," Gola said. "It's been a fun project so far."

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