Huntley parks seeks to add new turf facility

Will ask voters in March for $18.75M bond sale

HUNTLEY – The Huntley Park District will ask voters in March to approve $18.75 million in construction bonds to expand its facilities and create a new indoor turf facility.

Officials trimmed the voter referendum from earlier this summer, when the Park District Board contemplated a $20 million expansion to include the turf facility and a competitive swimming pool at the Stingray Bay aquatic center.

Executive Director Thom Palmer said the outdoor swimming pool would have zapped money for a future indoor swimming pool addition. Residents favored the latter option in the district’s 2010 community survey, Palmer said.

“The outdoor pool was always somewhat of a compromise,” Palmer said. “The wisdom is to stay true to the direction of the survey, even if it takes more time.”

Voters will decide on the March 18 primary ballot whether to approve the $18.75 million referendum question. Nearly $16 million would go toward the turf facility, with the remaining portion slated for future land expansion.

The indoor facility would provide a playing surface for soccer, lacrosse, softball and other turf-related sports. It would also contain multipurpose rooms and bocce ball courts.

Officials are also trying to pay for this expansion without increasing the burden on property taxpayers.

The district would look to restructure the roughly $7 million in bonds used to build Stingray Bay, and the $5.7 million in bonds used to acquire the Pinecrest Golf Club. The two sets of bonds are set to retire in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

If voters approve the referendum, the tentative restructuring plan would extend those existing bonds out to 2034 to accommodate the new bonds from the referendum, said Eric Anderson, who specializes in municipal bonds with BMO Capital Markets.

The restructuring plan would slightly lower property tax bills for residents but last for a longer period until the bonds expire in 2034, said Anderson, who has worked with the district on its expansion plan.

A homeowner with a home valued at $250,000 paid $331 this year in property taxes to the district, according to district figures.

“If it passes, residents will not see an increase in their current park district property tax bills,” Palmer said.

The district is eyeing a two-year timeframe to complete the indoor turf facility, if voters allow officials to proceed in March.

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