Prospect Heights Park District to seek $30 million tax hike Nov. 8 for Lions Park overhaul

Prospect Heights Park District residents will decide at the polls Nov. 8 whether to approve a 25-year tax hike seeking $30 million to revamp Lions Park.

That price tag includes replacements for the pool and Gary Morava Recreation Center, the installation of new playground and sports courts, and a doubling of on-site parking.

The park district's board voted unanimously to put the referendum on the fall ballot.

"The park board and staff are committed to listening to Prospect Heights residents to hear their thoughts and understand community needs," board President Tim Jones said. "During the comprehensive master planning process in 2018 and in more recent surveys, the community identified as priorities renovating or replacing the Gary Morava Recreation Center as well as the Lions Park Pool. At each step, our residents have made clear what matters most to them in the Prospect Heights Park District."

The borders of the park district are not exactly those of the city of Prospect Heights. The financial impact of the proposed tax hike would be proportional to each resident's property value and taxes.

Executive Director Christina Ferraro said within the park district, the median home value is $284,300. The estimated tax impact for the owner of a home with that value would be $462 annually.

Among the information already available on the park district's website is a tax-impact calculator into which homeowners can input their own home value and other factors affecting their tax bills.

The website soon will include the times and locations of information sessions regarding the referendum.

The project intends to add new tennis, pickleball and basketball courts as well as a new outdoor playground at Lions Park at 110 W. Camp McDonald Road in Prospect Heights. The number of parking spaces would grow from 97 to 200.

"Repairs or replacements and improvements to several of our facilities were identified during master planning and task force sessions," Ferraro said. "The Gary Morava Recreation Center was built in 1976 with an addition in 1993. A new facility would include two new gymnasiums with an indoor suspended walking track."

The project is expected to not just spend money but also strengthen the park district's financial position, she added.

"For example, an additional gymnasium and updated aquatics facility are expected to generate increased revenue and contribute to the ongoing maintenance of all park district assets," Ferraro said.

If voters approve the tax-hike request, a nearly yearlong design process would follow. With that done, construction would be expected to start in 2024 and continue through the fall of 2025.

As the work progresses, there would be a rolling closure of facilities, including possibly a season without the pool open, Ferraro said.

The park district already is in talks with neighboring facilities that could help provide space for programs during construction, she added.

The Prospect Heights Park District will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a $30 million tax hike for a major overhaul of Lions Park on Camp McDonald Road. Courtesy of Prospect Heights Park District
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