DeKALB – DeKalb District 428 board members are expected to vote Tuesday on selling Kiwanis Park to the DeKalb Park District for $625,000, its appraised value from May.
If approved, the vote would seal the fate of the park property that school leaders had once considered transferring to developer ShoDeen Construction through a land swap. DeKalb Park Board members unanimously approved the agreement Thursday to buy the 41-acre park from the school district for $15,000 an acre.
The decision came about four months after school and park board leaders agreed to work together to maintain the park as open space. Late last year, opponents of the land swap distributed bumper stickers and about 100 yard signs encouraging local leaders to “Keep our green; it’s not for ShoDeen.” A Facebook page by that name had 447 members in December.
On Friday, school board President Tom Matya said the agreement would be addressed during the board's public session Tuesday. The school district purchased the park for $1.4 million in August 2002.
"Being involved in the negotiations, I believe we struck a fair deal with the park board and a good decision for our community," Matya said.
Cindy Capek, executive director of the DeKalb Park District, said the district will use existing money from its capital funds to pay for the park, which the park district presently maintains. She said the district will pay it all at once, not in installments.
Matya didn't know Friday what the school district would do with the $625,200 from the park district, but he said it was a decision for the whole school board to consider.
"We'll be discussing a couple of opportunities," Matya said.
District 428 Superintendent James Briscoe said the appraisal price of $15,000 per acre was logical, given that the school district wanted to cooperate with another local unit of government, and that the economy has vastly changed since the district bought the land in August 2002.
The district had considered trading the land for 33 acres ShoDeen Construction owned by DeKalb High School. The district initially bought Kiwanis Park when it considered putting the new high school there, but school officials said they had no longer plans for the property.
The land swap proposal would have also cleared up a $1 million impact fee credit the district had with the developer. This year, the district has to pay ShoDeen $42,000 for interest on the impact fee credit. ShoDeen would have also paid the school district $654,000 for the improvements the district made around DeKalb High School.
Outgoing park commissioner Joan Berkes Hanson said purchase decision was easy for her to make, because the park's soccer fields are so important to the hundreds of children that play on it every year. Kiwanis Park houses 14 fields that primarily serve the local AYSO youth league.
"It's a positive thing to keep that property as open space," Hanson said. "There was no doubt in my mind when it was presented to us that the park district should purchase it."