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Close Vote: Arlington Heights Park District $48 Million Bond Issue for Park Improvements Rejected

Wed March 21 2012 6:29 am  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=51741
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Referendum Fails …
The Arlington Heights Park District $48 million bond issue was rejected by voters Tuesday. With all 61 precincts reporting, the bond issue differed by 634 votes — 5,762 “yes” votes and 6,396 “no” votes. Votes aren’t official until the votes are canvassed.

According to a 2009 Community Needs Assessment Survey, most residents favored building renovations vs. building new, but due to several factors, the park district was considering a proposal to build new instead of renovate existing. The park district reported over 60% of respondents favored adding amenities such as fitness center areas and walking/jogging tracks.

The 2010 plan included a master plan that allows the park district to most efficiently use and reallocate existing buildings, space and resources to continue to offer neighborhood-based centers as opposed to the larger, centralized centers built in other communities (e.g., RecPlex in Mount Prospect).

Arlington Heights Park district officials believed that a 2009 survey and master plans for Camelot, Frontier, Heritage, and Recreation parks developed with community meetings supported their decision to request the $48 million bond issue with the associated tax increase. The master plans included the following:

Camelot Park plans involved renovating the community center containing approximately 25,500 square feet and included:
the improvement of accessibility
the addition of a full-size gymnasium
the addition (and renovation) of flexible multi-purpose programming space
the addition of an indoor walking path
the relocation of the outdoor basketball, sand volleyball and athletic fields
the expansion of parking; adding spaces and drop-off
the addition of pathways
the expansion of storm water detention

Frontier Park plans involved renovating the community center containing approximately 44,500 square feet included:
the improvement of accessibility
the addition of a double gymnasium
the addition of an indoor walking path
the addition of flexible multi-purpose programming space
the relocation of the outdoor basketball, sand volleyball, tennis
courts and athletic fields
the expansion of parking; adding spaces and drop-off
the renovation (and addition) of pathways
the expansion of storm water detention

Heritage Park plans involved renovating the community center containing approximately 21,900 square feet and included:
the improvement of accessibility
the addition of flexible multi-purpose programming space
the addition of a full-size gymnasium
the addition of an indoor walking path
the relocation of the outdoor basketball courts and playground
the expansion of parking; adding spaces and drop-off

Recreation Park plans involved renovating the community center and bathhouse containing approximately 27,500 square feet, including maintaining the open space in the center of the park, the lap pool, and also included:
the improvement of accessibility
the expansion of parking; adding spaces and drop-off
the addition of an indoor walking path
the addition of a full-size gymnasium
the addition of programming space
the expansion of storm water detention
the conversion of the current WPA building with the basketball court to a bathhouse

Hasbrook Park
Demolition of existing building

Lake Arlington
Improvements and renovation of existing path including installation of an additional concentric path to separate walking and running traffic from cycling and roller blading traffic.

The Master Plan also involved additional projects as part of the referendum, and included improvements to soccer, football, baseball and softball fields with installation of synthetic turf at:
Sunset Meadows Park
Frontier Park
Centennial Park
Melas Park

Opponents of the $48 million bond reacted strongly against the price tag — saying enough is enough, and that some people are being forced to move out of their homes because they can’t afford living in Arlington Heights anymore. With higher gasoline prices, higher real estate taxes even without the bond, lost jobs, less raises, and the inflation of food prices; many people said this is not the time for the bond.

Park District officials said if the bond issue passed, the owners of a $300,000 home would have experienced an average $36 annual increase in property taxes, however anti-tax activists pointed out that the net impact would have been greater if the difference caused by the retirement of other bonds were included in the computation.

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