SYCAMORE – What a difference two years makes.
Two years ago, the Sycamore Park District closed its building on Fair Street because of budget constraints. The superintendent of recreation's position was elimiminated. Fewer recreational programs were offered.
On Wednesday, the district announced the hire of a new superintendent of recreation, Meghan Jourden-Messerich, who is scheduled to begin work July 17 with an annual salary of $76,500, executive director Dan Gibble said. She is currently an assistant superintendent of recreation for the St. Charles Park District.
Fitness facilities and classes and an indoor jogging track are some of the features the district plans to offer when its new community center is complete about 10 months from now.
"We've been in a scaled-back situation since [closing the Fair Street building]," Gibble said. "Now, we're going to be back in expansion phase, and we need someone with good experience managing those facilities."
Jourden-Messerich's duties will include staffing, scheduling and organizing programs offered in the new community center space, such as dance, fitness, arts and crafts and tumbling classes.
Gibble said a community-wide survey indicated strong interest from adults and older individuals for indoor excercise facilities, such as a place to walk or jog during extreme cold or heat.
The 22,400-square-foot community center is projected to open about 10 months from now, barring construction delays, with concrete walls already beginning to form the building on the site of the future recreation campus along Airport Road.
The next major step in the community center construction will be adding structural steel and panels to form the roof shortly after the Fourth of July, Gibble said.
The recreation campus will also include a dog park, splash pad, sled hill and an outdoor ampitheater and patio. Those features, along with other ACTION 2020 projects – a new golf course irrigation system, bike path extensions and sports complex expansion – are being funded by about $9 million in property taxes, $3 million in grants and $1 million in donations.
The district is now about $32,000 short of its $1 million fundraising goal in the Leaf a Legacy campaign, Gibble said.
The community center should be the first ACTION 2020 feature open for public use in March or April 2018, followed by the splash pad that summer, he said.
The dog park is tentatively scheduled for fall '18 and the sled hill for winter '18 or '19, but their openings will depend on the turf having enough time to settle so that it is ready for heavy activity, Gibble said.
Live updates to construction on the recreation campus are posted to the Sycamore Park District website.