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Designs for proposed McHenry rec center take shape

McHENRY – Ground could break on the proposed recreation center as early as next spring.

The updated timeline on the long-planned project was presented to the McHenry City Council on Monday, along with a clearer accounting of the project's estimated cost and a draft layout.

The front of the building, which would be on city-owned land west of the McHenry Municipal Center, would be dominated by the fitness center complete with free weights and aerobic machines, Deputy City Administrator Bill Hobson said.

"The fitness center is the economic driver of this facility," he said, adding that most recreation centers staff looked at got the thrust of their revenue from monthly and annual memberships.

The 18,500-square-foot facility, as currently designed, would also house dance and group exercise spaces and a multipurpose room that can be divided into three rentable spaces, Hobson said.

The parks and recreation staff also would be moved out of the crowded McHenry Municipal Center, he said.

Staff made sure to trim costs where they could, City Administrator Derik Morefield said, pointing to the slanted roof on the front half of the building. A previous design had the back half of the roof also slanted to a greater degree than the current designs showed.

The whole structure is designed with phasing in mind, Hobson said. The designs show where a gym could be added on the north side of the building, and the back patio could eventually roll out into an aquatic center.

The first phase has an estimated price tag of $5.5 million, including contingency costs, according to council documents.

The city has applied for a Park and Recreational Facility Construction Act grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Morefield said.

But if the grant doesn't come through, the city has about $4 million in development fees saved up for a recreation center and the remainder may need to be financed, he said.

"The most exciting thing for the residents is that taxes won't be raised," Alderwoman Geri Condon said. "It doesn't meet all our needs, but I think we're being very realistic and meeting the needs we can with what we can afford."

Based on a consensus from the council Monday evening, city staff and the architects hired earlier this year will finalize the design and construction documents with the goal of going out to bid this winter, Morefield said.

Work could start in the spring with the recreation center opening winter 2015 or spring 2016, he said. Staff intends to get membership drives rolling before the opening.

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