ROCHELLE — Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District officials are taking a two-pronged approach in hopes of securing funding for a new 80,000 square foot recreation center at the Helms Athletic Complex.
Commissioners approved two separate options on Monday night at a special meeting, including both placing a $14 million referendum proposition on the April 2 election ballot and also approving a different plan to finance it through non-referendum alternate revenue source bonds.
The rationale for approving both funding options gives the district two independent opportunities in gaining the authority to issue bonds by this spring so that construction on the facility could start this year.
“Timing is important with construction costs and keeping the project affordable,” financial adviser Tom Chapman explained to board members on Monday night. “By passing both items it gives you better possibility of getting it done by 2019 and keeping costs from rising.”
The past several months park district leaders have rolled out plans to build a community center that would include a large indoor turf field, gymnasium space, a fitness center, a walking track, classroom and multi-purpose rooms, locker rooms, offices for staff and other public gathering spaces. Costs for that phase of the project are estimated near $11 million, while a second phase of adding an indoor competitive swimming pool in the future would cost at least $3 million.
Park board president Tim Hayden asked Chapman if the district could ask for all $14 million upfront and still build the facility in phases over time.
“Yes, that is right,” Chapman responded. “You could go ahead with a $14 million proposition not to exceed that amount and then you would have a five-year period to complete it all.”
“So, can we approve both?” commissioner John Dobbs asked.
“Yes, you can, and it would be your best option to gain authority,” Chapman replied.
The resolution providing for and requiring the submission of a proposition to issue $14 million in general obligation park bonds by referendum on the April 2 ballot was approved unanimously in a 6-0 vote by the board.
The ordinance authorizing the issuance of alternate revenue bonds not to exceed $14 million was passed in a 5-1 vote, with commissioner Bud Norcross voting no.
“It would seem more simple to just put it on the ballot for referendum in April,” Norcross stated. “My main concern is the voters of Flagg Township to get the chance to say yes or no, that’s all.”
After the meeting, Chapman explained that Flagg Township voters would have 30 days to petition the park district to place the alternate revenue source option on the ballot in 2020. He said if 7 1/2 percent of registered voters, who also voted in the last election, fill out an official petition within the time frame, then the district would instead look for bonding authority through a referendum vote in the April 2, 2019 election.