ELMHURST – The Elmhurst Park District recently took another step toward establishing an indoor sports facility in the city, a plan that has been in development for the past few years and might be realized with the passage of a potential referendum.
The park district’s board of park commissioners decided unanimously Nov. 26 to select Dewberry, an Elmhurst professional services firm, for preliminary architectural and engineering planning services for the potential creation of the facility.
The park district previously contracted with Dewberry to complete a facility assessment of the building the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is scheduled to vacate in late 2019.
The board also considered a presentation from Williams Architects, which made the presentation at the meeting.
Commissioner Carolyn Ubriaco praised Dewberry for its proposal of having multiple channels of input available to the public. Williams Architects proposed a two-day charrette, or public meeting, which would include establishing an understanding of the project’s purpose and visually presenting alternative concept plans.
“It’s [a charrette is] a charming concept, and it’s cool and I love it,” Ubriaco said. “But I think having multi-channels to maintain a dialogue and engage in a dialogue is very important.”
The work will include the evaluation of potential sites for purchase and the viability of building an indoor sports facility on the parcel, including developing a building/site program, design goals and developing models for two to three conceptual ideas, according to a memo included with the Nov. 26 board meeting packet.
Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers said Nov. 28 that district staff “felt very confident” bringing forward both firms for consideration but “ultimately believed that it was important that this be a board decision” to reflect the community’s take on the project.
He said work with Dewberry will involve reviewing some potential sites for the facility the park district is seeking, including sites that are on the market currently and ones that “might potentially be on the market.”
The park district, which previously discussed with local sports teams the concept of an indoor arena, will again discuss the idea with local teams, Rogers said.
The district also will consider having Convention Sports and Leisure International, which conducted a feasibility study for the arena in 2016, make another presentation regarding the economics of the plan, he said.
“If sites start to become more favorably looked at or more strong possibilities, then we’ll start to look to re-engage the community to garner additional input on the design of a potential facility,” Rogers said.
The community has indicated a desire for an indoor sports facility, but the district’s finances are insufficient for acquiring a property and establishing the facility, Rogers said.
The facility could cost about $25 million to $30 million beyond the cost of acquiring the property. The preparation design and estimates would allow the board and the community to understand the scope of the desired potential project, he said.
Other large-scale projects the district is considering are an expansion of the Wagner Community Center, a new senior center, a new dog park, acquisition of more open space and the improved condition and maintenance of parks and amenities.
Rogers said the district hopes that by summer it will be able to provide sufficient information to the park board, including more community input, to decide whether the district should place a referendum on the ballot seeking approval to fund the plan.
The district is asking for community input on the various projects via the Vision 2020 plan website and it will have additional online surveys and open houses in the future, Rogers said.
The park board unanimously approved the 2019 budget, with $23.9 million in expenditures, for the district at its Dec. 10 meeting. According to the document, the district plans to develop for board approval a financial and program plan for an indoor sports facility in 2019. Two seats on the park board are up for election in the April 2 election.
For information about the park district’s Vision 2020 plan, visit vision2020.epd.org. To view the park district’s 2019 budget, visit www.epd.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2019%20Budget.pdf.