Lakewood’s Village Board brought those proposing to build the Chicagoland SportsPlex to face the public Tuesday night, one week before zoning of it is to be considered.
The main concern of those in Colleens Cote, who have a Huntley postal address, was pollution;
One person wondered if a hotel might be built north of his home on Route 47.
Village President Erin Smith pointed out that the long-range plan of Lakewood (posted on the village web site) had envisioned commercial development along Route 47 for a long time.
A 500-foot setback was put forth by one of the neighbors.
Spokesman for the developer, Vice Presiden Mike Turner, said that lighting for night games, which would end at 10 to 10:30 would be “directional.”
“I’m an electrical contractor and I can tell you it doesn’t work,” a man from Colleens Cote interjected.
Traffic on the back roads was also a concern.
Grafton Township Supervisor Jim Kearns said township roads would not handle another 2,500 vehicles a day.
A neighbor pointed out that the Hamilton Road (at the western edge of the project) already was a favored path to the “Harley mecca” in Woodstock.
The developers said that traffic will be allowed to exit the back ball fields through a right-only exist.
Other neighbors through that any exit on Hamilton Road would be unsafe with all the hills.
Village President Erin Smith pointed out that township roads bordering the SportsPlex would become Lakewood roads.
So, maintenance and police patrolling would become a village responsibility.
While most questions at the informational meeting seemed to be from those living outside of the Village of Lakewood, Janet Lee, who lives in the original part of Lakewood in Country Club Additions asked if there were “any way we in Lakewood could be held responsible in any shape or form of way.”
It so reminded me of my question in 1992 as to whether the golf course would “ever cost me a dime.”
I was told, “No,” at the time, but the Village Board changed its mind at a subsequent with the inducement of a lower interest rate, if property taxes could fill any gap in the dedicated revenue stream.
And, as Lakewood residents know, for many of the twenty years the bonds were repaid with hefty additions to our property taxes.
When I brought the golf course flip-flop up near the end of the meeting, assurances were made that no bonds would be sold with the possibility that property taxpayers might have to pick up the tab if a dedicated revenue stream were inadequate (as the greens fees were for the golf course).
Village officials also gave assurances real estate taxes would not be affected by the sale of Tax Increment Financing bonds and that no investment besides infrastructure.
Designer Jack Porter explained, as he did four years ago, how conservation friendly the development would be.
Current wetlands would be preserved and past ones would be restored.
He even proposes a Special Service Area be set up composed of the property and watershed areas to the north.
In answer to a question of a woman who was impressed with the development, Porter said that the 150,000 square foot indoor sports facility would be LEADS Certified.
There was conflicting testimony about whether the TIF District, which might result in the borrowing of up to $63 million, would raise taxes.
George Mueller, who was involved in the Virginia Street Tax Increment Financing District in Crystal Lake said,
“Government money doesn’t go to the TIF.”
“It’s the people’s money from that property [that pays for the TIG]
“The local government will be the big winner.
“I’ve been involved in it.
“No government money was expended up front.”
I have to admit that set me off.
That is the party line of TIF supporters.
What is not said is that when local tax districts don’t get access to increased assessed valuation, if they are not at their maximum tax rate, they just raise their tax rates to make up for the difference.
Guess who pays for that.
It’s every property owner outside the TIF district.
The TIF bonds proceeds are targeted at extending water and sewer to the property.
The SportsPlex would have to pay $700,000 in tap in fees.
An additional $5 million has been allocated to improve the intersection of Routes 176 and 47 (the southern leg).
Smith revealed that the purchase of land south of Pleasant Valley Road by the Village was for “a strategic reason,” that reason being to spur the Illinois Department of Transportation to look more seriously at improving the intersection.
[I certainly hope that with a Republican Governor that Lakewood doesn’t have to pay to fix a dangerous state highway intersection. Smith said it was one of the most dangerous intersections in the State of Illinois, which has been used to accelerate IDOTs planning work.]A
Unlike last time, this iteration of the sports complex will not be a for-profit entity.
Salaries, not profits are what the organizers expect to receive.
All financing will come from the sale of bonds.
Bond advisor Townsend Albright of Walloon Financial Advisers told the crowd that he was
“excited, especially with the management team.”
He said the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization made it “much easier to finance.”
Specifically mentioned was money from naming rights, which could be directly pledged to pay down the bonds.
Local bond advisor Steve Willson disagreed with Albright’s rosy analysis.
“I’m on the buy side.
“I advise a high yield [fund].
“It is my professional opinion that I would never recommend this proposal to my client.”
“Show us the overwhelming evident that it might succeed,” he challenged Smith.
“The bond market will decide,” Trustee Gene Furey replied.
Comparing the current proposal to the previous one, Turner, who is a member of the Woodstock City Council, pointed out,
“The bond market [then] did its job.
“It killed it.”
Construction is estimated to cost $40 million with ground breaking sometime this summer.
Questioned about the chances for success of the SportsPlex, Turner said that sports being proposed had been changed (no motocross anymore and 17 sports being considered).
“Bond holders have held our feet to the fire.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of scrutiny.
“It has been vetted extensively by people who will be putting up the money.
“Their money is at risk.”
He contended the facility would draw locally (up to 40 miles away), regionally, super regionally and nationally.
He pointed to the CABA youth baseball tournament which he has a hand in running for five years.
Village President Smith added,
“This particular proposal has less risk for Lakewood.”
Near the end of the meeting, a Colleens Cote resident observed,
“This has sealed the fate of two hundred residential families.”
Len Tenore estimated thate would be 75-80 full-time jobs and 150-200 part-time positions.