SYCAMORE – Dan Gibble had to make good on a promise, and he was glad to do it.
With the electric whir of a set of shears, Gibble's hair fell to the floor in celebration and when it was all over, the Sycamore Park District's executive director wanted to make sure it was good enough.
"Is this short enough for a million?" Gibble asked about 20 people who came to watch the trimming.
In the waning days of 2017, the park district's Leaf a Legacy fundraising drive reached its goal of raising $1 million in private donations. The fundraiser got a jump start at its beginning when an anonymous donor pledged a matching donation of 50 cents for every dollar raised, up to $600,000, Gibble said. When the park district began the fundraiser, Gibble said it was confident it could get $600,000 to $800,000 easily.
"The matching gift changed our view considerably," he said.
When the district reached the $900,000 mark in spring of 2017, Gibble offered to shave his head when the district raised the last $100,000.
"I kind of wish it had happened when it was warmer," he said.
The $1 million in private fundraising is the final funding element in the park district's $13 million Action 2020 plan. The expected total cost of $13 million includes a $9 million bond sale that was approved by referendum in 2015 and will be repaid through increased property taxes. Another $3 million is to be covered by grant funds.
The donations will go toward projects at the district's legacy campus, including the largest one: the 40,000-square-foot community center being built along Airport Road, across from the district's offices. The building is expected to open April 14, Gibble said.
Exterior construction of the building is mostly complete, Gibble said, and most of the work is being done inside.
"We're heating the building with the building's system," he said.
Outside, he said there is still some landscaping work to be done.
Once finished, the community center will include a gymnasium, rooms for group fitness classes, and an indoor track. The center will be part of a wellness program in cooperation with Northwestern Medicine and Northern Illinois University’s Department of Kinesiology.
Another element to the campus, the Splash Mountain splash pad, to be built south of the community center, has encountered some setbacks. Gibble said there were delays receiving permits from the the Illinois Department of Public Health, and that the district did not want to pour the concrete for the pad until those were sorted out, but he expects the splash pad to open this year, as well.
"We have about two to three weeks of work left on it," he said, although when the work will be done depends on the weather.
The splash pad will be a zero-depth water feature that will allow kids to play in sprinklers and fountains without a pool.
The construction, also will include a dog park, sled hill and trails to be opened in the next couple of years.
Gibble's hair wasn't long enough to donate to any of the charities or organizations that accept them. Before it was over, he decided he might embrace the new look.
"I used to watch 'Kojak,'" he said. "Does anyone have a lollipop?"