Wheeling contributing $1.8 million to rec center expansion
Wheeling village board members are giving the park district $1.8 million in tax dollars earmarked for development projects to help pay for a large expansion of the community recreation center.
Officials from the village and park district finalized an agreement Tuesday to contribute tax increment financing, or TIF, funds to the $18.8 million project. The 42,000-square-foot expansion includes another gymnasium and enlarged fitness center, as well as renovations to the existing facility at Heritage Park.
"This intergovernmental agreement is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when we work together for the betterment of our constituencies," Park District Board President Sue Stein said in a Wednesday news release. "The support from the village of Wheeling will go a long way toward helping us offer our residents the services they need and desire."
Under the agreement, the park district will provide a permanent facility for senior recreation programming and for the village's congregate dining program when the project is finished. Apart from the congregate dining program, all of the village's senior programming has been hosted at the recreation center since the start of this year, when the village closed the Wheeling Pavilion Senior Center.
The recreation center is within the village's Town Center-II TIF district, established to spur growth along Dundee Road. Expanding the recreation center is part of a plan to accommodate residents who will live in the hundreds of new apartments being added in residential-commercial developments on Dundee Road.
The new developments include Wheeling Town Center, Uptown 500 and Northgate Crossing, which combine to add 900 apartments to the village's new downtown near the Metra station.
"For many years, the Village has encouraged transit-oriented, mixed-use development in our town center, and those efforts have proven very successful," Village President Pat Horcher said. "In anticipation of the arrival of many new Wheeling residents only steps away from Heritage Park, the park district has undertaken this critical renovation project in order to stay ahead of the community's needs, and the village is honored to contribute to these efforts."
A majority of the expansion will be paid for with about $14 million in reserve funds, but the park district also is borrowing some money. In addition to approving the TIF agreement with the village Tuesday, park district commissioners started the process of issuing up to $4 million in bonds for the expansion. However, the park district intends only to use $3.5 million, officials said.
Construction started in early May and will take about 16 months to complete.