Park Ridge Park District holds off on November Youth Campus referendum
The Park Ridge Recreation and Park District is now exploring the purchase of the entire Park Ridge Youth Campus site at 733 N. Prospect Ave. | Jennifer Johnson~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:21AM
PARK RIDGE — Voters will not see a referendum on the November ballot concerning the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District’s proposal to purchase a portion of the Park Ridge Youth Campus property.
Following a 90-minute closed-door meeting Aug. 16, the Park Board of Commissioners took no action and did not discuss publicly the Youth Campus matter though the board earlier this month had anticipated voting on referendum language during the meeting.
Park District Executive Director Gayle Mountcastle told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate that the Park District will not be going to referendum on Nov. 6 as planned, but is now looking to place a question on the April 2013 ballot instead.
The Park District this summer presented tentative proposals for converting 6.85 acres of the Youth Campus, 733 N. Prospect Ave., into open park space combined with recreational and administrative uses. According to the proposal if the referendum was approved bonds would be issued and property taxes raised to cover the cost of purchasing the land, demolishing some buildings, renovating other buildings, performing environmental work and designing the park space.
A developer is interested in purchasing the southern four acres for the construction of single-family homes.
Mountcastle said one of the reasons for the postponement of the referendum involved the fact that commissioners were just presented with several cost scenarios for the property, depending upon what changes they would like to see there. The cost ranged from a low of $8.3 million to a high of $15 million.
“They need time to absorb what they were looking at,” Mountcastle said.
Park District staff also developed estimated increases in property taxes based on a median Park Ridge home value of $458,500. If the Park Board were to choose the $8.3 million option, the property tax increase per year would be approximately $50, Mountcastle said. For the $15 million project the tax hike would be about double, not accounting for other outside factors, like changes in the tax equalization rate.
Mountcastle indicated that there are other reasons behind the decision to postpone the referendum, but declined to specify them. She did say that “factors of the situation changed” due to the Youth Campus’ merger with Children’s Home and Aid.
“Now we are negotiating with a different organization altogether, with involvement from the Youth Campus Board,” Mountcastle said.
Kevin Buggy, a representative of the Youth Campus Board, said with the exception of the referendum’s delay, there were no other issues concerning the sale of the property.
“They had talked to our board about possibly delaying (the referendum) until April and we didn’t have a problem with that,” Buggy said of Park District officials.
Mountcastle said a spring referendum will not impact the sale of the property and no contract has yet been signed by the Park District or developer.~.