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Parks Ask For $13.2 Million To Buy Land

The park district board voted Thursday to place on the April 9 ballot a question asking voters if it should purchase 11.35 acres being vacated by the Youth Campus and develop it into a usable park. It would cause a tax increase.

 

Park Ridge and some Niles voters will face a choice on the April 9 ballot: spend $13.2 million in a one-time-only chance to acquire valuable historical open space and turn it into a park, or heed the advice of those who feel the spend is too great and turn it down to avoid a tax increase.

The Park Ridge Park District board voted 5-1, with one absence, at its regular monthly meeting Thursday to place a referendum question on the ballot. 

Both supporters and critics of the measure have emerged.

Supporters say district needs more open space to meet standards

A group which favors a "yes" vote for the referendum has assembled a website, OurParksLegacy.com, to advocate for the idea. 

They suggest it would enable the park district to have more room for programming, conserve community history and provide more open land per capita. With the Park Ridge population at 37,480 residents,  National Recreation  and Parks Association guidelines recommend  234.25  acres to 393.94  acres  of  open  space. However, the park district has  126.6 acres, meaning it is low on open space according to NRPA guidelines, referendum supporters suggest.

For the average household in the district, which has a market value of $458,000, according to the 2010 census, taxes would go up $72.19 annually if the park district purchases and develops the land, according to Gayle Mountcastle, executive director of the park district. 

Critics fear taxes may spiral

However, one park board member acknowledged the referendum has some critics. Stephen Vile voted no to placing it on the ballot. 

Vile said he personally favors the idea and will work to pass the referendum, but that seniors at the Park Ridge Senior Center, many of whom voted for him, are frightened of the idea it would raise taxes. Part of their concern, he said, stems from uncertainty about whether federal taxes might go up if the debt ceiling is raised. 

"So I was trying to give them a voice," he said. "I'll be happy to work for it. But to not recognize that voice and show that there are two sides on this issue is not right."

Patch will continue to cover this issue as it develops. 

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Harry Gio January 22, 2013 at 02:32 PM
The City of Park Ridge doesn't have to raise $$$$$$$ by selling municipal bonds, which ultimately increases property taxes... Our firm will purchase the Youth Campus property and lease it to the City of Park Ridge for 30 years, and then donate it to them... City of Park Ridge Mayor or City Finance Manager can reach me at: HarryGio@MSN.com
MIKE January 23, 2013 at 02:26 AM
Don't see why Niles residents should have a say on this.
Mel Thillens January 23, 2013 at 03:22 AM
The land, construction and bonds will never be cheaper. This is the last chance to preserve this much open space. The benefits outweigh the costs. Mike, a some Niles residents fall into and pay taxes to the Park Ridge Park District.
Harry Gio January 23, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Our firm will purchase the Youth Campus property and lease it to the City of Park Ridge for 30 years, and then donate it to them... City of Park Ridge Mayor or City Finance Manager can reach me at: HarryGio@MSN.com

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