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Huntley Park District looks toward referendum for $20 million expansion

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 4:59 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 11:49 p.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – With planning already underway, the Huntley Park District likely will ask voters through referendum next March to finance a $20 million expansion of its facilities.

But the bonds needed to finance the expansion that would create an indoor turf facility and a competitive swimming pool near Deicke Park would not add to residents' property-tax bills, Executive Director Thom Palmer said.

That's because the district would look to restructure its existing debt in a way that would not force increases to its property-tax levy. Existing debt on the district's REC Center and Stingray Bay Aquatic Center are set to expire in 2015, with bonds on the Pinecrest Golf Club set to be retired by 2018.

"It puts us in a position to reissue bonds to build new facilities, without increasing the tax burden to residents," Palmer said.

The district would restructure its debt, after voters endorse the referendum, Palmer said. The park district board has not yet finalized the referendum, but members are strongly considering the March primary election, he said.

The proposed indoor turf facility would be on roughly 10 acres east of Stingray Bay and south of the REC Center. It would allow residents and youth leagues to play soccer, baseball, softball, football and lacrosse year round, Palmer said.

A committee of residents already has started to meet and develop ways to reach voters and explain the need for a referendum, Palmer said. The district also has authorized soil testing at the location of the proposed facility.

Officials hope to add a recreational area within the facility that would contain bocce ball courts and multipurpose rooms. The district does have existing playing fields at the proposed location, Palmer said, but the district would look to relocate them.

The competitive swimming pool would be added on to the Stingray Bay and serve as a prime venue for the district's growing youth swim team program and the senior swim team at Sun City Huntley, Palmer said.

The district typically has to close its only pool at the aquatic center by midafternoon, when those groups are scheduled to use it, because of inadequate space.

A portion of that $20 million also would be used to buy land for future expansion, Palmer said, but district officials have yet to identify specific parcels.

Residents, he said, have been asking for these types of facilities since 2011. Residents surveyed as part of the district's comprehensive plan identified many of those needs, Palmer said.

"We know currently that quite a number of our athletic groups in town go out of town to take advantage of these types of facilities," he said. "We would like to service our residents and not have them leave town."

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