100 Projects to Give Taxpayers the Blues
Today, United States Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain released “Summertime Blues,” a compilation of
“100 Stimulus Projects that Give Taxpayers the Blues during the Summer of Recovery.”
The introduction of this third in a series of publications starts like this:
“When Congress passed the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, it passed with assurances that it would stem the loss of American jobs and keep the economy from floundering. As most can see, it hasn’t.”
McHenry County’s SportsPlex made number 67 on the list.
67. If Government Builds it, They Will Come . . .We Hope
(Lakewood, IL) – $18 million
Local officials in Lakewood Village (pop. 3,050) recently approved plans for a $40 million sports complex by a unanimous vote in the hopes of bringing in up to $500,000 in annual tax revenue from hosting local, national, and even international sports events. FN425 The complex, spanning over 165 acres will feature 17 lighted baseball fields, seven soccer fields, an indoor soccer dome, an arena for basketball, an extreme sports park for skating and BMX competitions, a gas station, and a 125,000 square foot building for a restaurant and retail facilities – all of this using $18 million of bonding authority granted to McHenry County from the stimulus bill. FN426 That portion of the money has been described as both “only a start-up mechanism” and a “bridge loan.” FN427
Not so fast, say the neighboring residents whose lives will be affected by the proposed facility. The most recent public meeting of the Lakewood Village trustees drew enough attendees to fill the room, the standing-room behind the chairs, and standing room into the hallway. FN428 A local blogger who attended observed that “besides the consultants, village officials and staff, most in attendance were people objecting from the neighborhood.” FN429
Concerns raised included traffic, light pollution, noise, water quality, and utility bills. Following the meeting, Village Trustee Ken Santowski wrote an e-mail to residents justifying his vote, arguing that “…the village would only lose face if the project fails…” FN430 He went on to say “This project is far from a done deal.” FN431 Perhaps Mr.
Santowski is the only one who sees it that way – the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (which calls itself “the greatest show on dirt”) is already trying to attract teams with a video “flyover” of the planned facility, calling it the “new CABA complex.” FN432
Several residents came away from the recent meeting frustrated. Tom Balboney of a nearby subdivision said “we feel all of this was done behind our backs,”FN433 and Larry Larson, long time resident, summed it up for the local newspaper: “It stinks…if they had to use their own money, they wouldn’t do it.” FN434
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The footnotes follow:
425 Bustos, Joseph. “Lakewood village board OKs special use permit, preliminary plan for sports complex.” Northwest Herald. July 28, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2010.
426 Resolution allocating Recovery Zone Volume Cap and approving a project for McHenry County Sportsplex LLC for the purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment tax Act of 2009. McHenry County, IL, Finance and Audit Committee Agenda, April 13, 2010. Accessed July 30,2010.
427 McHenry County Blog. “Lakewood Approves McHenry County Sportsplex.” July 28, 2010.
Accessed July 30,
428 Bustos, Joseph. “Lakewood village board OKs special use permit, preliminary plan for sports complex.” Northwest Herald. July 28, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2010.
429 McHenry County Blog. “Lakewood Approves McHenry County Sportsplex.” July 28, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2010.
430 McHenry County Blog. “Lakewood Village Trustee Gives View of Sportsplex Meeting.” July 29, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2010.
431 McHenry County Blog. “Lakewood Village Trustee Gives View of Sportsplex Meeting.” July 29, 2010. Accessed July 30, 2010.
432 CABA website. Accessed July 30, 2010.
433 McHenry County Blog. “Lakewood Approves McHenry County Sportsplex.” July 28, 2010.
434 Sroka, Diana. “Residents near planned $40 million sports complex not happy.” Northwest Herald. July 29. 2010. Accessed July 30, 2010.