Is Lakewood SportsPlex Still in Play?

Lakewood Village Trustee and future Village President Paul Serwatka received the following information and Lakewood’s contraversial SportsPlex from a friend.

Note that it is now being called a “Community Center” as well as a SportsPlex. “Community Center is a word that must be used in a type of funding available from the U.S. Agriculture Department.

SportsPlex rendering presented to the Lakewood Village Board.

SportsPlex rendering presented to the Lakewood Village Board.

My apologies for “talking business” on New Years Day, but, I feel it necessary to pass this information along, today, because of it’s potentially enormous ramifications and in case the need for a call-to-action becomes imminent.

I originally intended only to send “Happy New Year” wishes to all of you – wishing all the best in the upcoming year, as well as to share my enthusiasm and excitement for what this year promises for our village…

But, yesterday evening (NYE), however, I had a potential “bombshell” of sorts dropped in my lap and I’m currently looking into it as I write this update to you. This may, in fact, turn out to be nothing to worry about, but, I wanted to share, with everyone, what I have learned, just in case it does turn out to be something more and we need to act fast.


In my December 14th Newsletter, I shared that I had just been informed, days before, that the principles of Chicago Sportsplex had been at our village hall, speaking with our Interim Village Manager.

I was told that it was a very brief conversation, “just to inform her that they were still looking to procure financing and hoping to have something more to present at a future date.”

That is all I was told.

I do have to say that it struck me as odd that such time and effort were spent on such a simple, non-substantive communication. It would seem that such a communication would be conveyed via a simple email or phone call.


Yesterday evening, I received a call from a contractor friend, outside of Lakewood, asking for some insight as to an “invitation to bid” that he received. I was a bit alarmed at what I was then told.

The “Invitation To Bid” Cover Letter is copied below – Note the dates:

(Note the term “Community Center” is now, also being used. You may recall my June 2015 Newsletter informing residents that the Sportsplex principles were attempting to procure Federal Funds from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture and in doing so, it would be ESSENTIAL that the Sportplex would henceforth be described as a “Community Center”.)


Invitation To Bid

Lakewood Community Center / Chicagoland Sportsplex

McHenry County – Lakewood, IL

Bids Due: 01/06/2017 03:00 PM Central

Project Description:

Mass development of an existing golf course and greenfield site into a sports tournament and training center in Lakewood, IL. The Design-Build program shall consist of two separate projects: the Chicagoland Sportsplex and the Lakewood Community Center.

The Lakewood Community center will include: Activity Center Building (133,550 SF) and Community Center Building (60,000 SF), Basketball/Volleyball Courts, Indoor Soccer Fields (synthetic turf), Community Rooms, Office and Administrative Space, Divisible Meeting Rooms, Lockers with Restrooms/Shower Facilities, associated Concessions/Vending/Kitchen, a Fitness Center, and an exterior Multi-Purpose Event Space (Artificial Turf).

The Chicagoland Sportsplex shall include competition level (11) Soccer Fields, Adult and Youth Baseball/Softball Fields, Batting Cages, Practice/Warm Up Area, Playgrounds, Comfort Stations, Splash pads, Site Restrooms, Press Box Structures, and Concessions.

The second version of the SportsPlex will cover the following area, some of which is owned by the Village of Lakewood taxpayers.

The second version of the SportsPlex will cover the following area, some of which is owned by the Village of Lakewood taxpayers.

All site infrastructure (parking, site utilities, mass grading and earthwork) shall be included in the Chicagoland Sportsplex project scope. Design is anticipated to begin May 2017, start of Chicagoland Sportsplex construction in September 2017, start of construction for the Lakewood Community Center in April 2018, and final completion in August 2019.


Included in this Invitation to bid, were a hundred or so pages including; Drawings, plans and schedules that I have not yet worked my way through. Below is one referred to only as “Schedule” that included more dates.



1 Milestone
2 Submit Conceptual GMP 0 days Wed 1/11/17 Wed 1/11/17 10FF
3 Notice to Proceed 0 days Fri 4/28/17 Fri 4/28/17 12FF
4 Start Construction ‐ Chicagoland Sportsplex 0 days Mon 7/3/17 Mon 7/3/17 16SS
5 Complete Design and Permitting 0 days Mon 7/31/17 Mon 7/31/17 13FF
6 Start Construction ‐ Lakewood Community Center 0 days Mon 4/2/18 Mon 4/2/18 19SS
7 Lakewood Community Center Completed 0 days Fri 11/30/18 Fri 11/30/18 20FF
8 Chicagoland Sportsplex Completed 0 days Fri 8/30/19 Fri 8/30/19 24FF,23FF
9 Preconstruction 163 days Thu 12/15/16 Mon 7/31/17
10 Submit Conceptual GMP 20 days Thu 12/15/16 Wed 1/11/17
11 Review and Award Contract 57 days Thu 1/12/17 Fri 3/31/17 2,10
12 Issue Notice to Proceed 20 days Mon 4/3/17 Fri 4/28/17 11
13 Construction Design Development and Permitting 66 days Mon 5/1/17 Mon 7/31/17 12
14 Issue Site Development Package 45 days Mon 5/1/17 Fri 6/30/17 13SS
15 Construction 565 days Mon 7/3/17 Fri 8/30/19
16 Phase I ‐ Mass Grading and Site Work (West) 65 days Mon 7/3/17 Fri 9/29/17 14
17 Phase II ‐ Mass Grading and Site Work (East) 65 days Mon 10/2/17 Fri 12/29/17 16
18 Winter ‐ Minor Activity 65 days Mon 1/1/18 Fri 3/30/18 17
19 Phase III ‐ Lakewood Community Center Construction 130 days Mon 4/2/18 Fri 9/28/18 18
20 Site Buildings and Ball Fields Construction 175 days Mon 4/2/18 Fri 11/30/18 18
21 Natural Turf Development 196 days Mon 4/2/18 Mon 12/31/18 18
22 Winter ‐ Minor Activity 64 days Tue 1/1/19 Fri 3/29/19 19,20,21
23 Natural Turf Development Complete 110 days Mon 4/1/19 Fri 8/30/19 22
24 Artificial Turf Development 110 days Mon 4/1/19 Fri 8/30/19 22


Again, this may all turn out to be a completely routine step/process and schedule as they continue in their efforts to procure funds.

Paul Serwatka's 2014 sign hits property taxes, the Tax Increment Financing District and the SportsPlex.

Paul Serwatka’s 2014 sign hits property taxes, the Tax Increment Financing District and the SportsPlex.

The contractor who provided this information, however, is pretty convinced that this indicates that funds are likely already in order and that they are taking the next steps to actually begin the development.

I will be looking deeply into this! That much I promise you!

It is NOT my intent to “jump the gun”, “go off half-cocked” “spread false rumors” or “incite fear”.

Again, I acknowledge that this may very well be nothing more than just a routine step.

This entire Sportsplex development may very well still be in the infant “pipe-dream” stage as we are told it is, by our village administration and President.

I only pass this information along to you because I, regrettably, share in the concerns that MANY of you have expressed – that in light of our upcoming April election and the likelihood of change that is coming – that those currently in control may attempt to lock-in something like the Sportsplex development to prevent the new team from potentially stopping it after the election.

I promise you, I will keep you informed as I learn more.


Is Lakewood SportsPlex Still in Play? — 28 Comments

  1. OK, when a theater chain or restaurant looks to expand into a new area, they often do a population and income studies to ensure there is appropriate potential for customers, ticket buyers, and the like.

    I think the board needs to ask…have the proprietors of this complex commissioned such a study?

    Because I don’t see how this gets off the ground.

    There’s a huge Crystal Lake sports complex just southeast of there.

    There’s the indoor McHenry Athletic Complex off of Route 14.

    And you don’t have a dense population base nearby.

    Woodstock is just to the north, and that isn’t growing.

    You have sparse population to the west.

    And it’s a good 15 minutes north of I-90, not the most convenient, with a single lane Route 47 being a bottleneck.

    Then there’s the potential for tournaments, but Rockford has a strong presence there, and that is seasonal.

    Is demand exceeding supply for all these activities?

    And also, if this gets built, then folds, what are the financial implications?

    Hoffman Estates backed the finances that built the Sears Center, and when that went belly up, Hoffman taxpayers got stuck paying the bonds during the economic downturn.

    That area has apparently become profitable again, but still that’s a big financial albatross.

  2. My understanding is that the funding comes from federal grants, foreign investments fulfilling a requirement to purchase American citizenship, and an Ag dept. loan which has no penalty for a default.


    Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program
    What does this program do?

    This program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas.

    An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings.

    Who may apply for this program?

    Eligible borrowers include:

    Public bodies
    Community-based non-profit corporations
    Federally-recognized Tribes

    What is an eligible area?

    Rural areas including cities, villages, townships and towns including Federally Recognized Tribal Lands with no more than 20,000 residents according to the latest U.S. Census Data are eligible for this program.

    How may funds be used?

    Funds can be used to purchase, construct, and / or improve essential community facilities, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses.

    Examples of essential community facilities include:

    Health care facilities such as hospitals, medical clinics, dental clinics, nursing homes or assisted living facilities

    Public facilities such as town halls, courthouses, airport hangars or street improvements

    Community support services such as child care centers, community centers, fairgrounds or transitional housing

    Public safety services such as fire departments, police stations, prisons, police vehicles, fire trucks, public works vehicles or equipment

    Educational services such as museums, libraries or private schools

    Utility services such as telemedicine or distance learning equipment

    Local food systems such as community gardens, food pantries, community kitchens, food banks, food hubs or greenhouses

    For a complete list see Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR, Part 1942.17(d) for loans; 7 CFR, Part 3570.62 for grants.

    What kinds of funding are available?

    Low interest direct loans


    A combination of the two above, as well as our loan guarantee program.

    These may be combined with commercial financing to finance one project if all eligibility and feasibility requirements are met.

    What are the funding priorities?

    Priority point system based on population, median household income

    Small communities with a population of 5,500 or less

    Low-income communities having a median household income below 80% of the state nonmetropolitan median household income.

    What are the terms?

    Funding is provided through a competitive process.

    Direct Loan:

    Loan repayment terms may not be longer than the useful life of the facility, state statutes, the applicants authority, or a maximum of 40 years, whichever is less

    Interest rates are set by Rural Development, contact us for details and current rates

    Once the loan is approved, the interest rate is fixed for the entire term of the loan, and is determined by the median household income of the service area and population of the community

    There are no pre-payment penalties

    Contact us for details and current interest rates applicable for your project

    Grant Approval:

    Applicant must be eligible for grant assistance, which is provided on a graduated scale with smaller communities with the lowest median household income being eligible for projects with a higher proportion of grant funds.

    Grant assistance is limited to the following percentages of eligible project costs:Maximum of 75 percent when the proposed project is:

    Located in a rural community having a population of 5,000 or fewer; and

    The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 60 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income.

    Maximum of 55 percent when the proposed project is:

    Located in a rural community having a population of 12,000 or fewer; and

    The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 70 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income.

    Maximum of 35 percent when the proposed project is:

    Located in a rural community having a population of 20,000 or fewer; and

    The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 80 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income.

    Maximum of 15 percent when the proposed project is:

    Located in a rural community having a population of 20,000 or fewer; and

    The median household income of the proposed service area is below the higher of the poverty line or 90 percent of the State nonmetropolitan median household income. The proposed project must meet both percentage criteria. Grants are further limited.

    Grant funds must be available

    Are there additional requirements?

    Applicants must have legal authority to borrow money, obtain security, repay loans, construct, operate, and maintain the proposed facilities

    Applicants must be unable to finance the project from their own resources and/or through commercial credit at reasonable rates and terms

    Facilities must serve rural area where they are/will be located

    Project must demonstrate substantial community support

    Environmental review must be completed/acceptable

  4. One criteria above is

    “What are the funding priorities?

    Priority point system based on population, median household income

    Small communities with a population of 5,500 or less
    Low-income communities having a median household income below 80% of the state nonmetropolitan median household income.”


    Median Household Income
    $ 123,934

    Source: 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

    Illinois Household Income

    According to the Census ACS 1-year survey, the median household income for Illinois was $59,588 in 2015, the latest figures available.

    Compared to the median US household income, Illinois median household income is $3,813 higher. 2016 Census ACS data (including 2016 Illinois household income numbers) will be released in September of 2017.

    Illinois median family income and per capita income for Illinois are shown further down.

  5. With all the people leaving the state, why should this “complex” be built ?

    Something funny (as in corruption) going on here, me thinks.

  6. I must agree with Honest Abe.

    I just don’t see the need for this complex.

    There are ample facilities nearby.

    Not just Crystal Lake, but Huntley has a sports complex in Talamore and ample ballfields by their park HQ.

    For indoors, there are indoor fields going into the former Target in West Dundee.

    If this complex is built, then folds, it still becomes this massive albatross that drains resources, and puts an unforseen burden on Lakewood.

  7. Gee, ya think so, Honest and Concerned?

    These are scammers feathering their own nests.

    You are too kind.

    Bring back public pillories and put every one of these people involved in this scam on display.

  8. Everyone who objects to a wealthy golf course Village with median household income $124,000 obtaining Federal or State Grants or Loans under the Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program of USDA,

    Please contact Colleen Callahan at number below and let her know that this Sportsplex does NOT meet the criteria for Grants or Loans from Federal or State funds.
    (household median income in Lakewood is $124,000, there is NO community support for the project, and Lakewood has SEVERAL ‘Community Centers’; they are called golf course clubhouses.

    Colleen Callahan, State Director
    2118 West Park Court, Suite A
    Champaign, IL 61821
    Voice: 217-403-6200
    Fax: (855) 832-8691

  9. One use of this type of facility is for tournaments.

    There are many types of tournaments.

    Some of the tournaments would attract teams from outside the area and outside the state.

    Tournament teams and travel teams play in such tournaments.

    There are such facilities in Wisconsin Dells, Cooperstown, NY, Grand Park in Westfield Indiana, etc.

    Here is a list of 10 for baseball, and the website contains plenty of additional information about the topic in general.

  10. That is not the point.

    This is applying for US tax dollars under the guise of a Community Center.

    This Sportsplex meets none of the criteria listed above for the USDA Grant or Loan money.

  11. The Lakewood Sportsplex would add fields to Lippold Park and other area fields.

    The bigger tournaments use multiple parks / facilities.

    That would be part of the justification for the Sportsplex in their business plan.

    Part of the justification would be supply and demand.

    That’s from the perspective of Lakewood Sportsplex.

    Various groups of taxpayers have their own perspective.

    It is helpful to know how the various stakeholders view the issue.

  12. Most anyone can justify mostly anything in a business plan that involves many millions of taxpayer dollars subsidization.

  13. It’s not quite that easy.

    If that were the case we would see lines of people with TIF applications and a lot more people would want to open a business in Illinois by obtaining a TIF subsidy.

    But as in much of Illinois government there is not adequate taxpayer understanding of TIFs.

  14. Combination of TIF subsidy (1/3 of costs plus free land) AND Federal or State Grants or Loans under the Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program of USDA.

  15. And don’t forget the $18 million of recovery bonds McHenry County resolved to issue in benefit of this Sportsplex in 2010.

  16. Wait I’m looking through comments here and don’t see much positive reaction….

    who in Lakewood is actually FOR this?


  17. Lakewood Sportsplex is not solely a private venture with public subsidies?

    It would include a Village of Lakewood Community Center?

  18. Gene:

    Personal attacks with no evidence are a low political tactic, especially irrelevant personal attacks.

    But thank you for providing evidence of your moral character.

  19. Gene:

    Your reply is not fitting for an elected public official.

    Please tell us how you know Paul is using a pseudonym, and why that would be relevant.

    A failure to respond to a legitimate request for information by a constituent will also be evidence of your moral character.

  20. Ironic comments Steve.

    In other words, if a trustee denies and/or ignores multiple requests by a constituent to be included in his/her enewsletters, then per your comments “A failure to respond to a legitimate request for information…”) is evidence of the trustees moral character.

    This is especially troubling if the trustee signs the enewletters as “Village of Lakewood Trustee” thereby advertising as well as promoting his/her position on the board.

    Perhaps this trustee should be reminded that he/she represents each and every resident of Lakewood, regardless whether the constituent agrees or disagrees with the trustees tactics and policy positions.

  21. No, Linda, my point is that Gene Furey made an unsubstantiated and irrelevant attack on Paul Serwatka and I am asking him to provide evidence to support his attack and to prove that his attack is even relevant.

    There is NOTHING wrong with a trustee putting out his own email to keep people informed.

    Yours is an attempt to shift the focus from Gene to Paul. Even if your attempts to smear Paul were accurate, they would not respond to what Gene did.

    Please explain (a) how what Paul did is unethical and (b) what this has to do with what Gene Furey did.

  22. Linda,

    Every newsletter I send out includes the following footer, bolded with double red asterisks, immediately below my signature:

    ** Please note that all correspondence from including all views and opinions, are the personal views and opinions of Paul Serwatka as an individual only and are in no way meant to represent or reflect those of the Lakewood Village Board and should in no way be construed as such.

    Any official Lakewood Village Trustee communications will be sent from – and should be directed to:


    You have made repeated public and private efforts to undermine the efforts of myself and the Lakewood Tax-Fighter Team including a myriad of disparaging remarks about our efforts.

    You have referred to my newsletters as “tiresome rhetoric”, “Conspiracy theory” as well as “political posturing” and “tactics” that you say you don’t agree with.

    You have referred to our first-ever Property Tax Freeze Advisory Referendum as a gimmick.

    You have stated that our team will do nothing to lower property tax burdens, etc.

    What positive and productive reason could you possibly have in receiving my news letter?

    You have made it abundantly clear that my views, thoughts, positions and efforts are of no value to you.

    You have since chosen to support our current incumbent board members – the very ones you spoke quite negatively of until recently.

    As I have repeatedly told you privately, I have absolutely no problem with that. whatsoever.

    As I have also told you repeatedly, in private – I believe it’s best that you receive your Lakewood updates from those you trust, respect and support.

    Our village president sends out a quarterly newsletter for official updates.

    I also believe it’s best that I focus my time and efforts on/with those who seek only the betterment of Lakewood – rather than those seeking only to undermine my efforts.


    Trustee Gene Furey – I promise you, I have no problem using my real name on this blog.

    Hence, this very Blog article, and many others…

  23. If the newsletter is distributed and signed as from a Village of Lakewood Trustee regarding village specific matters, then every resident has the same right to hear what the trustee is saying.

    No need to be so dramatic Paul, but then again, that is one of the reasons I find your newletters so entertaining 🙂

  24. Linda:

    Again, you are attempting to draw attention away from Gene Furey.

    Do you defend Gene’s comments?

    If so, please explain (since Gene has not seen fit to)

    (a) where he got his information,

    (b) why his charge is even relevant, and

    (c) why he doesn’t explain himself?

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