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Petition to stall Lemont Sports Complex awaits review before pushing development to the ballots

LEMONT — A group of Lemont residents has collected more than double the amount of signatures needed for a petition to postpone construction of the $21 million Lemont Sports Complex.

The group, formed under the name Citizens for Open Government, filed the petition with 1,657 signatures Wednesday morning at Lemont Village Hall. The group was required to get 785 signatures to push the complex onto the election ballots via a referendum for the March 2014 election.

Beginning Tuesday, Lemont residents will have a chance to review a petition signed by nearly 1,700 residents hoping to delay the proposed $21 million Lemont Sports Complex.

Residents then would have the option to file their objection to the petition — for instance, to challenge signatures believed to be invalid. Objections to the petition must be filed by March 11, according to Village Administrator Ben Wehmeier.

Wehmeier said if an objection is filed, it would heard by the Cook County Election Board within 10 days of the filing.

If no objections are filed, construction on the complex would be delayed until the March 2014 election, when residents would vote on the proposed development via a referendum.

Citizens for Open Government had been circulating the motto "Let us vote" during its efforts to garner signatures for the petition.

The Lemont Sports Complex is proposed to have four indoor and outdoor turf fields, a multi-purpose area and an outdoor skating rink for the winter months on 26 acres at the north end of Stephen Street. It will be open to baseball, softball, rugby, lacrosse and soccer.

Construction would be paid for using sales tax, Tax Increment Financing district funds, income tax and operation revenue from the facility, officials said.

“It’s a fast-track project,” Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves said Jan. 28. “I want the facility to be ready to go for the fall season."

“It’s a project that again, I can’t stress enough, will not go on residents’ property tax bills,” Reaves added. “Just like the police department, the renovation of village hall, the new public works facility — none of that goes on their property tax. It never has and never will.”

But it was the "fast-track" comment from Reaves that members of Citizens for Open Government criticized.

Group member and former District 113A Board of Education member Janet Hughes said Wednesday the group is "putting the brakes" on the project.

"It's time we take a stand against outrageous government spending," Hughes said.

The group circulated the motto "Let us vote."

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