Dist. 117 approves new $22 million field house for Lakes
Lake Villa-based Community High School District 117 officials say a recently approved plan to build a $22 million, 70,000-square-foot field house at Lakes Community High School will help both district athletics and academics.
Superintendent Jim McKay said once the field house -- featuring four basketball courts and a 200-meter indoor track -- is complete in 2021, student-athletes no longer will have to travel to rented spaces elsewhere in the area, and even across state lines, to practice, or wait until late in the evening for space to become available.
"Our athletic programs are strong programs and continue to grow and so there always was a challenge of space," McKay said, adding that some teams aren't done with practice until about 9:30 p.m. because of the wait for space.
McKay said the field house also will host the district's major arts events, such as concerts.
"Our last band fest this past spring was held at Antioch High, which has the largest gym in the district, and it was elbow to elbow," McKay said. "That's a sign we have a good, strong program. This field house will allow those events to continue to grow."
McKay said the field house will be used for physical education classes at Lakes Community High, and District 117 students will take the SAT there.
The $22 million price tag includes a 20 percent contingency fund and will be paid for entirely from district reserves, McKay said.
"We are not going to referendum for this, and it is only through conservative fiscal practices we are able to pay for this," he added.
While district officials have saved to pay for the field house, they've also given about $5 million back to taxpayers through abatements over the last five years.
"It's been very important to the board of education that we maintain a level tax rate," McKay said. "They don't like taxes fluctuating up and down."
The district plans to hold public meetings in late summer or early fall to gather feedback about field house designs. The project could go out to bid in the fall and work could begin next spring, McKay said. Construction is expected to take just over a year.