Some Lyons Township park bonds still not allocated
Alec Valentino, 9, of La Grange enjoys the new climbing equipment at Denning Park, financed in part through Lyons Township park bond proceeds. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
How has the money been spent?*
$508,0000 to renovate Denning Park in La Grange
$430,000 for improvements to park near Ideal School in Countryside
$423,000 to build Veterans Park in Lyons
$367,346 to put in a splash pad at Lions Park in Willow Springs and for new playground equipment in Lions and Willow parks
$310,000 for soccer fields, walking paths and washrooms at the main park in Summit and do upgrades at the town’s three other parks
$300,000 for a new concession stand and landscaping in Jaycee/Ehlert Park in Brookfield
$194,000 for outdoor exercise equipment, asphalt paths, horseshoe pit and two bocci ball courts in McCook park
$165,0000 for concrete paths, new roof for gazebo and landscaping at Blackhawk Park in Indian Head Park
$150,0000 to build a picnic shelter in Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale
$140,000 for new tennis courts near Woods Pool in Burr Ridge
$109,000 for a complete renovation, including four tennis courts ballfields and parking lot, of Indian Gardens in Riverside
* A complete list of all the projects that received funds from the bonds sale was not available from Lyons Township.
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:14PM
COUNTRYSIDE — With $4.5 million of Lyons Township park bond proceeds unspent, three applicants remain hopeful.
The Township Board awarded $4.2 million in February 2010 to 13 park districts or villages for outdoor recreation projects from a $10 million bond issue.
The money became available after voters approved a 2004 referendum proposal to sell up to $10 million in bonds to acquire or develop park lands with the loss of the Timber Trails Golf Course to a housing development at Wolf and Plainfield roads.
Representatives of the Western Springs Park District and the village said they haven’t been formally rejected so they’re still optimistic funds could be awarded.
The village has sought at least $400,000 to help construct an underpass beneath the BNSF train line on the west end of town, also to be financed by a $2.3 million federal grant. The grade level underpass adjoining Spring Rock Park would improve safety and recreational opportunities and tie the town together.
The park district did not spend a $511,000 township grant to help build a $1.3 million artificial turf field at Spring Rock Park after voters rejected a proposal to do so in April 2010. The district hopes to secure $300,000 of that to improve the natural field, said Robert Daman, Park Board president.
Save the Timber, the nonprofit group which spearheaded the 2004 referendum campaign, has partnered to seek funding with Openlands to preserve a wooded portion of the former golf course.
“We remain hopeful the land is acquired either by purchase or condemnation by that date,” said Ellen Raymond, the Timber group’s president.
A major stumbling block to the preservationists is a state law requiring a recipient of park bond proceeds must be a public taxing body with authority to maintain the land. Neither Raymond nor an Openlands representative would say whether a taxing body has stepped forward.
“We’ve had conversations with many different partners, but I can’t say the final details have all been established at this point,” said Ema Brawley, director of land preservation for Openlands.
Township attorney Ed King said another nonprofit group’s application was rejected in June 2010, in part because of a problematic arrangement with a taxing body. The Flagg Creek Historical Society sought $1.5 million to acquire land for a museum in conjunction with the Pleasant Dale Park District.
The society “was not a governmental entity and the project wasn’t for an outdoor park, and the details about who would operate it and maintain it wouldn’t be known until it was completed in 2014,” King said. “It was a wonderful project, but very expensive.”
Township Supervisor William Mundy said some of the projects funded in 2010 have been completed, and he had high praise for $508,000 used for improvements to Denning Park in La Grange and a joint project to improve a Countryside Park at Ideal School for $430,000.
Mundy said the Township Board hasn’t decided when or whether to award the remaining $4.5 million.
“Quite frankly, I’d like to refund the money back to the taxpayers and pay down the debt from the bonds,” he said. “The referendum was a well meaning cause, but from one end of the township to the other, everyone has had an increase in their taxes. These are tough economic times.”