Planning for Park Ridge Parks’ property-tax referendum has costs, too
Updated: November 4, 2012 1:16PM
PARK RIDGE — Voters will decide if the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District spends tax dollars on new park amenities at the former Park Ridge Youth Campus, but just preparing for the spring referendum comes with its own expenses.
Executive Director Gayle Mountcastle has estimated that costs associated with the April 2013 referendum planning effort could top $76,000. According to Mountcastle, expenses so far have included an appraisal of the 11.35-acre campus property at 733 N. Prospect Ave., hiring of architects to develop conceptual design plans, structural studies of existing buildings that officials have considered using, the Park District’s review of an environmental study performed by the property owner, and informational materials presented at two public meetings.
“We’re trying to be prudent with the dollars we are expending prior to the referendum being passed, but there are necessary steps we have to go through,” Mountcastle explained.
Despite the price-tag involved, the Park Board is not taking formal action to approve these pre-referendum expenditures. This is because each individual expense falls under $20,000, the amount at which Mountcastle would be required to seek Park Board approval.
“They gave consensus for me to expend these dollars,” Mountcastle said of the $76,000 estimate.
During an Oct. 25 Park Board meeting Mountcastle shared anticipated legal costs associated with the Park Ridge zoning process and interest in hiring the law firm of DiMonte and Lizak to represent the Park District in these zoning matters. According to letter from firm attorney Jack Owens, who has represented a number of Park Ridge developers, pre-referendum legal fees are estimated at $12,000 and post-referendum fees are estimated at $12,600, not including any costs from the city.
“This isn’t board worthy,” responded Commissioner Jim O’Brien, stating that the board has given Mountcastle the authority to spend up to $20,000 per individual expenditure and, therefore, no motion to authorize this latest expense was required.
There was no disagreement from the other commissioners.
The Park District has not yet presented the total cost of purchasing and developing the former Youth Campus for park space and recreation. What is known is that the purchase price of the site is $6.4 million and the preliminary estimate for building renovation and land development is $6.6 million, according to an informational flier produced by the Park District.
The Park Board must take action to place a referendum on the April 9 ballot by Jan. 18.