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Lake in the Hills annexes land for park district project

Work still needed before recreation, aquatic centers move forward

The Crystal Lake Park District now has a location to potentially build a recreation center and aquatic center.

The Lake in the Hills Village Board this week approved the annexation of 27 acres of land at 8917 Ackman Road. The annexation gave the park district the zoning it needs to build a community recreation center and aquatic center.

Even though there is no development plan yet, the park district has agreed to bring back future development plans to the village’s planning and zoning commission and the Village Board for review.

The village agreed to waive its annexation fee, lakes/stream maintenance fees and building permit fees, unless fees are incurred by the village when using a third- party firm.

The park district also would be able to deannex the property from Lake in the Hills if the village is unable to provide adequate water to the property.

Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster said he expects the park district to close on the property for $625,000 on April 4.

The district is taking on debt to buy the property, which would be paid back in five to six years, he said.
Having a location to build a potential recreation center has been elusive in the past for the park district.

After working for six months and spending $200,000 in 2009, the Crystal Lake City Council gave the thumbs down to a plan for the park district to buy the former Viking Dodge dealership at Route 176 and Route 14. Brilliance Honda eventually located on the property.

Crystal Lake City Council members at the time cited concerns about access to the site and traffic issues.

With the Lake in the Hills approval on Thursday, the park district now has a site it can use.

“The site is important so people know where you’re planning on doing this,” Herbster said. “If we were saying, ‘We want to do this, but don’t know where,’ I don’t think people would really support that.”

“I think anywhere we would have done this we would have had a municipality on board with us,” Herbster added. “It’s a good project for any community.”

Before moving forward on any project at the Lake in the Hills location, the park district still needs to conduct an attitude and interest survey. The last survey was completed in 2009.

Design work would begin after the attitude and interest survey, Herbster said. The survey and design work would each take six months.

A possible referendum would take place after the design work is complete. Herbster said the soonest a referendum would take place is 2016.

Previous referendum attempts in 1962, 1988 and 1992 to build pools or community centers failed.

If the park district builds a recreation center it could possibly have a fitness center, a gym to play basketball, walking track, banquet space, preschool classrooms or multipurpose rooms.

“Recreation centers bring the community together because they offer something for everybody, whether it’s a preschool class for a young child, to card games for seniors,” Herbster said.

The attitude and interest survey would help determine what would be part of a recreation center, Herbster said.

“We want to make sure we do the things that are most important to the community,” Herbster said.

Herbster said a high estimate of what it would cost to build the facilities is $20 million.

“It could be lower,” Herbster said. “Now is a good time to build, because everyone wants work, prices are coming in real well, [but] we’re tied to prevailing wage, so prices are only going to be so good.”

If something is eventually built, residents of Lake in the Hills would pay a fee that is no more than the midpoint between a park district resident fee and nonresident fee to use the facility.

“It would be a nice amenity,” Lake in the Hills Village President Paul Mulcahy said. “It would be a real positive for our community.”

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