Survey has Elmhurst Park District taking another look at projects, referendum
Until recently, it appeared that Elmhurst Park District was preparing to put a referendum question on the ballot next year to pay for roughly $105 million in capital projects.
But the results of a new survey have park district officials rethinking that idea.
“The community has seemed to indicate that they are not in support of funding the plan at the level that was proposed in the survey,” Executive Director Jim Rogers said Thursday.
The survey of more than 1,100 registered voters was done to gauge the support for funding projects in the district’s long-term improvement plan, called Vision 2020.
Projects listed in Vision 2020 include acquiring land, building an indoor sports center, building a new adult center, creating a dog park, building a new parks maintenance facility, and replacing the Wagner Community Center and Eldridge Park Recreation Building.
But doing all of the projects would cost money — an estimated $105.2 million, with an annual operating subsidy of $2.5 million.
There was talk of a referendum that would ask to roughly double the district’s property tax levy. But district officials wanted to see the survey results before deciding whether to pursue the tax increase.
Now it appears voters don’t support the estimated price tag of doing all the projects.
“So the next step is for the park board and staff to do a thorough examination of the survey results and work to refine the plans,” Rogers said.
That process already has started and will continue when the park board meets Monday night.
Options the park board will consider include scaling back or delaying certain projects to reduce costs.
One decision involves the future of the Kieft Brothers Inc. property at 837 S. Riverside Drive. In September, the district placed a contingency-based offer on the 16.4-acre site for the new indoor sports center.
It’s possible the board could postpone the estimated $57 million building project and still want the land. But to raise the $15 million to buy the property, the district would need voters to approve a request in a March referendum.
And that leads to the big decision about whether the district will put a question on the ballot.
“Do we look to refine the plans potentially go to referendum in March?” Rogers said. “Do we maybe refine the plans and get more community input and not go until next November? Or another option, obviously, would be to not go to referendum.”
The board has until Dec. 30 to decide whether to put a question on the March 17 ballot.
In the meantime, Rogers said, “Literally no decisions have been made yet.”
The park board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, at the district’s administrative office, 375 W. First St. At that time, the board will continue its review and discussion of the future of the proposed projects.
Published at Fri, 06 Dec 2019 05:06:38 +0000