Vernon Hills asked to front costs of artificial turf at sports complex
Village officials are on board with a $1.48 million plan to install artificial turf on three soccer fields at the Vernon Hills Sports Complex, but details of a proposal to front the cost remain undecided.
While details on the amount and terms under which the village would loan the money are to be determined, the informal consensus among village leaders is that replacing the grass with field turf is needed to keep pace in a competitive environment.
"I think we should do whatever we can to go forward with this," Trustee Thom Koch said during a recent discussion. "You have to guarantee playability."
The Vernon Hills Soccer Club and Sports Made Personal want to install the turf on fields 10, 11 and 12 and convert them to two larger fields that could be utilized in a perpendicular fashion as needed.
As proposed, Sports Made Personal would contribute $900,000, the soccer club $300,000 and the Vernon Hills Park District $75,000. They're asking the village to contribute $208,000 and loan the two main contributors the amount of their contributions to be repaid over 10 years.
"The proposal is we would finance it up front," said David Brown, village engineer/public works director.
Peter Kempf, director of travel soccer for the club, said the volunteers who run the organization have been setting aside money for the field turf.
"This is a project the Vernon Hills Soccer cub has been interested in since our inception, about 11 years," he said.
A precedent for a financing deal was set by a previous three-year agreement to install lights on the three fields, Kempf said.
"We made good on our commitment, we hit the commitment all the time and now those lights are there for everybody's use in the community," he added.
He noted that soccer fields on the North Shore have artificial turf, which allows seasons to start earlier, last longer and face fewer cancellations because of bad weather.
Having field turf also would enhance the ability to draw special events and tournaments like the Chicago Cup, which brings about 250 teams to Vernon Hills. The village would benefit from visitors spending money at hotels and restaurants, Koch said.
"We should work this out however we can to get this done," he said.
Trustees David Oppenheim and Michael Marquardt also voiced support. Details will be discussed and brought back to the board for official approval.
"We have to work out some of the bugs, but it's a 'yes' from this seat," Marquardt said.
"I would like to not only concur but applaud this proposal," Oppenheim added.
The village also provided upfront financing for Vernon Hills High School's Rust-Oleum Field.
"That's OK, as long as it makes sense to us financially," Mayor Roger Byrne said. "I'm in. We'll try to figure it out."