Elmhurst Park District to survey residents on Vision 2020 funding

  • Elmhurst Park District's Vision 2020 plan includes a proposal for a new Adult Center at 123 E. St. Charles Road.

    Elmhurst Park District's Vision 2020 plan includes a proposal for a new Adult Center at 123 E. St. Charles Road. Courtesy of Elmhurst Park District

By Julia Locanto
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 9/11/2019 4:26 PM

Elmhurst Park District will conduct community surveys to determine how to approach a possible referendum question to raise money for six major projects being considered as part of its Vision 2020 long-term plan.

The district is looking to build a new adult center, an indoor sports center and a dog park. Its plan also calls for expanding the Wagner Community Center, acquiring more outdoor space and improving park maintenance.


With those projects in mind, the park board now is reviewing potential costs and funding options.

The projected cost for all six projects is roughly $105.2 million, officials said, with an annual operating subsidy of about $2.5 million.

To fund all that, the district would need to boost its property tax levy to $16 million -- roughly double the current amount. If voters approved such an increase, the owner of a $500,000 home would pay roughly $497 more a year in park district property taxes.

But Executive Director Jim Rogers stressed the district won't pursue any such tax increase until first collecting resident input.

"Right now, it's not about going to referendum, it's about the ballot format and voter input," Rogers said this week.

Working with aQity Research and Insights, the board will receive survey data from voters about two possible formats for proposed ballot questions. One asks residents solely about the tax rate increase; the other asks about the increase but also about bond repayment and lists all six projects.

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The first option has a slightly higher tax rate increase and longer bond repayment time, resulting in a total cost of $196 million with interest. The second includes a slightly lower tax increase and shorter bond repayment time, totaling $154 million for the projects.

The survey is an important step to take before going to referendum, Commissioner Carolyn Ubriaco said.

"I think it's something that we need to do," she said. "It's about what would be most palatable to the voters."

The board plans to begin surveying voters this fall with the goal of reviewing the data in November.

Here's how the district sets the cost for each of the six Vision 2020 projects.

• Adult Center: The park board voted unanimously on Aug. 26 to purchase the Redeemer Center building at 123 E. St. Charles Road. The district wants to use the 2.92-acre site to develop a facility for education and other programming aimed at adults and seniors. The space will house activities such as adult dance classes, luncheons and social services. The purchase of the site will be completed before any referendum question.


The projected capital cost is $6.6 million; the annual operating subsidy is roughly $75,000.

• Open Space: The park board already began this phase with the purchase of the Redeemer Center. The site's mini park creates open space for a high-priority section of the city. To acquire more, the annual operating subsidy is $500,000.

• Improved maintenance: A previous survey showed residents are concerned with maintenance at the district's existing parks and fields. The capital cost, including a new maintenance facility, is $3.5 million; the annual operating subsidy is $1.8 million.

• Indoor facility: Based on previous surveys, residents have indicated support for a 160,000-square-foot sports center that would include two full-sized synthetic turf fields, six convertible basketball courts, an indoor walking track, multipurpose rooms, a lobby with food services, locker rooms and possibly physical therapy and esports gaming. The projected capital cost is $71 million; the annual operating subsidy is $220,000.

• Wagner Center: The facility at 615 N. West St. offers classes for children, dance, gymnastics and other activities. The capital cost for the center is $19.5 million. There would be no increase to the annual operating cost.

• Dog Park: Construction at 0S761 Old York Road will cost $1.7 million, with an annual operating cost of $26,000.

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