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Sun City residents vet Huntley Park District referendum

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 4:55 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 6, 2014 4:58 p.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – Sun City Huntley residents peppered Huntley Park District officials with questions about future costs and the need for a new indoor turf facility during a voter forum Thursday.

Residents from the large senior-living community in Huntley submitted more than a dozen written questions that primarily focused on the district's plan to cover operating costs of the proposed facility.

District officials tried to ward off concerns about future tax increases and repeatedly emphasized that program and rental fees from people using the indoor complex would offset the costs to operate and staff the facility.

"As with any business, you forecast and look at the demand that is out there," said Executive Director Thom Palmer. "The demand is out there for a facility like this."

Roughly 65 residents attended the forum hosted by Sun City's civics committee.

The event came nearly two weeks before Huntley residents head to the primary polls on March 18 to decide a referendum that would allow the park district to issue $18.75 million in construction bonds to construct the turf facility and pay for future land expansion.

The park district is proposing the referendum, as the district's existing bonds for its Stingray Bay aquatic center and Pinecrest Golf Club approach retirement.

If voters approved the referendum, they would see a slight decrease on their property tax bills but would have to pay longer until the added bonds expire in 2034.

On Thursday, district officials started the event with a brief presentation about the facility and the amenities included in it.

Modeled off an indoor complex in DeKalb, the Huntley facility would be geared toward all generations and include turf surfaces for soccer, flag football, baseball, softball and lacrosse.

Officials said that Sun City residents would find the proposed track and bocce courts useful.

But the elderly residents questioned whether the community needed the facility since Huntley District 158 is building a fieldhouse for its Huntley High School expansion.

Athletic Supervisor Jeff Ryder said the district's facility would complement the high school's new fieldhouse.

The school's fieldhouse is primarily designed for court sports, like basketball and volleyball, while the district's turf facility is meant to house field sports, he said.

Ryder and other staffers have also talked with District 158 officials about the ways the two entities could use the buildings to service both residents and students.

"They are very complementary of each other," Ryder said. "They provide two different needs that are mutually beneficial."

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