Vernon Hills move forward with synthetic turf for soccer fields
Vernon Hills is taking the next step in its contribution to a $1.48 million plan to install synthetic turf on three soccer fields at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.
Village officials have ordered the preparation of a letter of intent with the Vernon Hills Soccer Club, Sports Made Personal and Vernon Hills Park District to convert fields 10, 11, and 12 into two larger ones. The letter is needed for design work to proceed.
Those involved in the project say artificial turf is needed to keep the fields at the athletic complex, a popular spot for tournaments, in play more often.
"We had record rainfall in May and then the two weeks into June," David Brown, village engineer/public works director, said this week during a board discussion. "The difficulties in them scheduling their games and the impact on users is substantial."
While the other entities proposed the project and will cover a majority of the cost, the village's participation is crucial as it will be fronting most of the money.
The park district would pay $75,000 upfront. The soccer club, an affiliate of the district, would pay $150,000 upfront and another $150,000 over nine years.
Sports Made Personal, which runs soccer and lacrosse tournaments at the expansive complex, would contribute $900,000 in 10 annual payments of $90,000 to the village.
"Sports Made Personal has a little different financing scenario than the other two," Brown said. "So that hasn't been fully resolved, but that's a conversation our attorney is having with them in terms of security and collateral."
Brown says that if the deal falls through, the village would be liable for a maximum of $15,000 for initial work but would then own those design specifications.
The village would contribute $208,000, but with other expenses, such as perimeter fencing, netting, and moving an irrigation system, its total investment would be about $400,000.
The work is regarded as a necessary investment to stay competitive as a soccer destination and is informally supported by village officials.
"It's a direction we need to be headed," village Trustee Thom Koch said. "It guarantees playability," he added.
Trustee Craig Takaoka noted that without the artificial surface, the existing grass turf eventually would need to be replaced, an expense Brown estimated at more than $400,000.
"I want people to know we're not just spending $400,000," he said. "Eventually, this investment needs to be made in this community and we have the opportunity where someone is collaborating with us."
Trustee Jim Schultz said Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 will be asked to pitch in. Vernon Hills High School is one of four entities that have long-term leases to use the site.
"This is a feeder program for their schools and I think it would behoove them make a contribution to whittle away at our $400,000 share," he said.
The village board is expected to vote on the letter of intent at its next meeting Nov. 5.