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Sycamore Park District eyes upgrading community center, trails

SYCAMORE – Most Sycamore Park District’s Community Wide Strategic Planning Team members agreed Thursday on what future projects were the most important – and that a referendum might be in the district’s future.

The three groups proposed fixing or replacing the community center and the park district’s trail system would make the area more appealing for residents. The team also discussed repairing the golf course’s irrigation system, swimming pool and sports complex. 

The 24 team members planned for eight months to present their information to the five park commissioners. Comprised of Sycamore leaders, students and residents, the group has been brainstorming for ideas to carry out the park district’s five-year “Vision 2020” plan, which would begin in 2015.

Members said the community center was important because it was open year-round and attracts more people annually than the swimming pool.

About 13,040 people visited the community center last year, which is up about 40 percent from the year before, said member John Hulseberg.

Team members estimated replacing or renovating the community center would cost about $3 million, without considering any cost for land.

Still, some residents don’t know where Sycamore’s current community center is, said member Rick Turner. This is why every group agreed to spread awareness of what the park district already offers.

“What we’re missing in Sycamore is a central focal place,” said Dan Gibble, park district executive director. “At most other places, the community center is the focal point.”

The trail system ranked high in members’ minds because it caters to a wide array of uses, such as biking and running. The trails are currently disconnected, team members said, and they stressed building trails in areas that aren’t in a flood plain.

But implementing the ideas would cost millions of dollars, and members said they would need the public’s help for most of it.

A survey conducted by the park district showed 58 percent of residents were willing to pay higher taxes for the fixes.

A referendum was suggested to dictate whether the park district should fix or build anything.

If the public approves the referendum, the park district would make the changes through 2020.

The team said the most important thing was to get backing from the public.

“I’ve lived here all my life, and what I’ve seen over and over,” said planning team member Ted Strack. “If you have a good cause, the community will support it.”

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