Lakewood Approves McHenry County SportsPlex

The Lakewood village board unanimously approved economic incentive and annexation ordinances that allow the $40 million, 165 acre McHenry County SportsPlex to proceed.

Three happy guys after Lakewood approved their McHenry County SportsPlex proposal without dissent. Organizers EnRico Heirman and Lou Tenor flank Jack Porter, the man who put together the proposal presented to the Lakewood Village Board.

The result is three happy guys, Lou Tenor, EnRico Heirman and Jack Porter, plus a plethora of consultants who pretty much answered every question thrown at them.

A zoning hearing started at 6 at the Lakewood-owned Red Tail Golf Club with over 120 people in attendance at its peak.  Less than half that number lasted until the midnight hour when about ten minutes of voting approved all the paperwork.

Besides the consultants, village officials and staff, most in attendance were people objecting from the neighborhood.

Lakewood, trying to garner more revenue, has moved aggressively in the last two months to annex property along the western side of Route 47 up to the northern leg of Route 176.

Peggy Keagan, a board member of the subdivision organization in Collleen's Cote, is seen after voicing her objections to the Lakewood Village Board.

Adjoining property owners are not happy.  That includes those who will be living next to baseball fields, plus those south of the area in unincorporated Colleens Cote.

Subdivision board member Peggy Keegan put it this way,

“You’re putting a ghastly complex in the middle of a corn field.  If it doesn’t succeed, you have a Motorola, you have a Sears Complex.”

“We feel all of this was done behind our backs,” Tom Balboney, also a resident from the subdivision, said.

An earlier supporter of the project had talked of his father’s having pointed to where Woodfield would be built.

Balboney said that’s why he had moved out here, to get away from places like Woodfield.

“We all feel this was done behind our backs,” he concluded.

Earlier Colleen’s Cote resident Catherine Francis had accurately observed,

Colleens Cote's Kathryn Francis told of the Blandings Turtle and blue birds she had on her property south of the property being annexed for ball fields.

“This feels to the residents as a moving train.  Suddenly you are in our back yard.  Venues could come in that would invite people that we wouldn’t want.  There has been no discussion about our safety.

“Are you telling us you want to do this to us for a half a million a year (in new revenue to Lakewood)?”

Village President Erin Smith told neighbors that their concerns would be taken into consideration.  Concerns included traffic on Hamilton and Pleasant Valley Roads, noise and light pollution.

It took two hours for the project’s consultants, choreographed by attorney Tom Zanck, to finish their testimony.

New turn lanes will make it easier to get in and out of Pleasant Valley Road.

Traffic Engineer David Miller explained the new intersection that will result once Pleasant Valley Road is relocated south so it is opposite the south leg of Route 176.

If one drove straight, where the "got mulch?" sign now sits, one would be driving into the planned entrance of the SportsPlex.

No longer will motorists see a sign that asks, “got mulch?”

Look closely and you can see a divided Pleasant Valley Road.

Once completed, there will be an elaborate entryway.

Baseball and soccer fields represent the majority of the areas highlighted in this slide. The ball fields will be lower than surrounding parts of the complex.

There will be ball fields all over the place.

A selling point to the proposal was its environmentally sensitive design by Jack Porter, who developed the Sanctuary of Bull Valley in the City of Woodstock.  High quality wet lands like Lighting Creek are being completely avoided.  The cold water creek, which contains the Iowa darter, a little perch, will be crossed by a boardwalk.

The boardwalk will be part of a trail system that will be available to the general public.  The

The restaurant at the SportsPlex.

developers will charge those participating in tournaments, but don’t plan to do the same for family, friends, coaches, etc.

Porter touted the development as “an opportunity to stimulate the Northwest Quarter of the village.”

He described it as “a public-private partnership” that would never have happened without the support of Dick Durbin, Melissa Bean, Pam Althoff and the village board.

500 construction jobs will be created and under terms of the EB-5 financing, which, as former village president candidate John O’Hara put it,

“We’re selling visas to foreign residents.”

The Federally-approved financing device allows foreigners to invest $500,000 in a project like the SportsPlex and get a visa, as long as enough jobs are created.  For the amount of money involved, there must be 353 Full-Time Equivalent jobs created.

O’Hara summarized the financial arrangement like this:

“So, there’s no taxpayer risk for the EB-5 bonds, no taxpayer risk for the Recovery Zone Bonds.

“So, the only risk for the taxpayers is the off-site improvements.”

Village President Smith replied, “That’s right.”

The $18 million in county board-approved Federal stimulus bonds is being used “only as a start-up mechanism.”

It was also described as “a bridge loan.”

The off-site improvements include a promise by the village board to provide sewer and water to the property.  Current Lakewood sewer and water lines are about two miles away, so it may be cheaper to build on-site treatment and water facilities.

“The village has made a commitment to provide sewer and water,” Village Administrator Catherine Peterson explained.

Jack Porter and Tom Zanck were at the microphone a lot.

A man asked why the SportsPlex was not being built on the east side of Route 47.

Porter replied there were three reasons:

  • “the availability of land (on the west side of the road)”
  • “it’s in the center of the county”
  • “it would be in the village of Crystal Lake (if it were on the east side of Rt. 47)”

Financial information for the private enterprise was not revealed.

Stressed several times was

“This is all equity financing.”

Eventually, $36 million is being sought from E-5 financing, while $4 million in equity is being sought elsewhere.

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More illustrations here.


Lakewood Approves McHenry County SportsPlex — 6 Comments

  1. I attended the meeting about the Lakewood Sportsplex. I found more impotant questions were not answered than were answered. The Village Board choose to proceed even though most of those in attendance were against the proposal,without answering key questions about financing,ownership background,reasonable chance of the community being to support such a large complex. where is the need?

  2. This scheme is a sleazy money making attempt by developers and conned city officials of LakeWood that is completely detrimental to the entire area of Pleasant Valley Road from one end to the other. My family settled in this area in 1839 and now here it goes down the drain. The reasons: Greed and Indifference to others.

  3. I attended the meeting about the Lakewood Sportsplex.Ifoundmore importantwere not answered than wer answered. The village board choose to proceed even though most of those in attendance were against the proposal,without answering key questions about financing,ownership background,and does the community have a reasonable chance of supporting such a large complex in todays economy. Where the need?

  4. Thank you for this post, Cal. It is clear that the Lakewood Village Trustees are not concerned about the impact this will have on the nearby families. They made absolutely no concessions or demands of the developers on our behalf. Lakewood residents appear to be unengaged. To my knowledge there has been no discussion with Grafton Township who will be responsible for the maintenance of Hamilton Road. There is also no plan for increased traffic West of Hamilton on Pleasant Valley. There has been no intergovernmental agreement with McHenry County for police, for fire and other services.

    Do McHenry County residents realize that Lakewood will stick them with some big discrete expenses for this project?

    Other concerns that have not been addressed:

    Water they will draw from the wells of residents.
    Increased noise and it’s impact on sensitive and in some cases endangered

    Increased traffic and it’s impact on sensitive and endangered wildlife.
    What are the “other entertainment opportunities” that will invited to the site? What will their impact be?

    How are they going to get the needed utilities including sewage to the site?

    Not an exhaustive list, but certainly a start.

    Lakewood residents-didn’t you want more tax revenues than a mere half million per year? Which by the way, is a best-case scenario.

  5. Enrico Heirman has been trying to build a baseball field ever since Crystal Lake switched over to MCYSA. He was on the planning committee that was trying to get a minor league stadium built in McHenry County. Apparently it doesn’t matter to Enrico where it gets built. He wants a place to host CABA games. Perhaps having it close to Lippold Park is his way of showing the Crystal Lake Park District a thing or two.

    There is total disregard for the area residents. There isn’t the infrastructure to support the projections. 47 and 176 are heavily traveled already. Not too long ago 176 needed to be closed because of 4th of July traffic. We all have wells. Is the intent to build a water tower to supply the Sportsplex? This would surely dry up our wells. Years ago there was a Peaker Power Plant proposal. One of the reasons it wasn’t built was because of the water issue. And what about light pollution? Who’s going to buy all of the houses in Colleen’s Cote when they become worthless. And that is what they will become if this Sportsplex gets built.

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