The city of Yorkville’s plan to introduce new recreation spaces is rolling ahead after officials completed the partial sale of Bristol Bay Park in July and new developments surfaced downstate in Springfield.
At a recent meeting, members of the Parks and Recreation board discussed timetable for park redevelopment projects and the prospect of hiring an architect to design potential sketches for a new recreation facility.
Tim Evans, director of Parks and Recreation, said new developments in the city allow the new recreation center and other projects to get underway using available state grant funding, all while saving costs.
“Both of our grants for Bristol Bay and Riverfront have been reinstated,” he said. “We’re waiting on the official word, though.”
He emphasized that even with the availability of funding, officials will need to request a one-year extension in order to complete these projects on time.
Riverfront was slated for completion at the year’s end, while Bristol Bay called for work to begin in 2017.
Evans, noting there are many moving parts to getting the Riverfront project off the ground, said that puts plans for Bristol Bay on hold for another year.
The city first received notification that they would receive funding for both parks approximately five to six years ago. Around that time, those plans came to a halt. In a new development, Gov. Bruce Rauner approved a six-month stopgap budget this summer that will include funding to move forward the city’s plans to redevelop recreational spaces.
At Riverfront Park, a $400,000 Open Space Land Acquisition Development grant will provide the city with the means to introduce a new playground, a fishing pier and new landscaping.
At Bristol Bay Park, another $400,000 OSLAD grant will provide resources for a number of items including a skate park, a volleyball court and parking space.
In a related development, the city’s plans for Grande Reserve Park A are moving along by means of separate grant, and is expected to see completion by the year’s end.
Evans said the way it works Yorkville pays for the project’s cost upfront and that allows the state to reimburse the money.
“We have money in our land cash budget,” he said, noting that officials are divvying funds for the projects using land donated to the city from other parts of the town.
By selling a 15-acre portion of Bristol Bay, valued at $250,000, in July, Yorkville officials agreed they must also move forward with plans to develop a new recreation center.
Evans said the city feels they must look at hiring an architect to create a design.
“It allows us to look at it and say, ‘what can we as a city do,’” he said. “We may be able to cut some of these cuts out—electrical and things of that nature. We can get it out and get the parameters of what we’re looking for and probably get a better deal.”
In doing so, the park and recreation board would allot between $7,000-12,000 to perform the architectural design services using capital funds.
Evans said he thinks what they’re looking for ideally is at least a half-court, gym-size type building that offers the city the ability to expand to a full court in the future.
He emphasized that a potential location for the recreation space would depend on existing access to water, sewer and parking.
Board member Deborah Horaz questioned if the city should look to allocate the money toward a recreation center as quickly as they are.
Ultimately, the board came to a consensus that using the funding now would prevent the money from being funneled elsewhere.
Board member Sash Dumanovic said he sees a level of importance in pushing forward with the city’s plans to develop a new recreation center.
“I think we’re all very supportive of just getting those professional services done the sooner the better,” he said.
Evans said whatever the city ends up building, they intend to grow with the space.
“If we can get something off the ground, that’s a good size for us, that allows us to start expanding programs and space, we can start generating more revenue,” he said. “We can add it to as we grow.
The board will review architectural designs for the proposed recreation facility as early as September or October.