Park District nears final Activity Center plan

The Naperville Park District is moving closer to a specific building concept for its new Activity Center.

“We will come in at or under budget,” Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said about the project.

At an event devoted to finance issues, McGury was one of several local officials reporting to the monthly meeting of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation.

The $23 million Activity Center will sit on a 5.2-acre site near Fort Hill Drive and Quincy Avenue, a location McGury acknowledged was not quite in the central part of Naperville, but was still close enough to the center to serve the needs of most residents.

Currently many programs are held at the Alfred Rubin Community Center and while its downtown location serves many well, people in other parts of the city don’t have the same convenient access, he said.

Also, there is an issue in the city due to lack of space for activities, McGury said, a problem the district currently copes with by partnering with school districts 203 and 204.

“But we were always jostling for position (with school district activities),” McGury said.

The tentative design is for a two-story, 80,000-square-foot building that will be home to three basketball courts, a gymnastics room, fitness center, and small cafe.

While many had indicated a desire for an indoor pool, the cost proved prohibitive.

McGury said that an eight-lane pool would set the district back an additional $6 million, pushing the final cost significantly past the money allotted for the project.

McGury noted that in addition to seniors and other potential users of the facility, the number of special needs citizens in the area numbered 3,500, and the new building would provide additional options for programs directed towards them.

He said the district has limited resources in funding and maintaining the Activity Center, but he predicted that they would be sufficient for the Activity Center’s operation and maintenance.

“This will more than sustain itself,” he said.

McGury said that current plans are to break ground in early 2015 and have the building operational by mid-2016.

City view

Outgoing City of Napervile Finance Director Karen DeAngelis told the confederation representatives that the city has weathered the economic downturn of the last few years considerably better than the rest of the nation.

The city’s sales tax money, the largest source of revenue for the general fund, has increased by 9 percent, or double the national average, over the past year.

Home sales in Naperville are also on the rise, improving by 60 percent over the previous year.

The city had set aside $4 million to balance the fiscal year 2014 budget, but increasing economic activity made dipping into the fund unnecessary.

Even if the city’s sales tax receipts drop off to the national projected average in the coming year, the city still has $6.8 million in reserves set aside for budget balancing, she said.

But with the city’s sales tax trend, it is unlikely that the reserve will be needed next year.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” DeAngelis said.