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$15.5M West Chicago rec center will provide indoor space for community

Published: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 12:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:58 p.m. CDT

WEST CHICAGO – With the West Chicago Park District set to break ground on a new $15.5 million indoor recreation center Saturday, residents can expect to see increased programming as a result of the additional space the center will provide.

“We have a lot more opportunities, more capabilities, to offer broader programming for more age groups,” Executive Director Gary Major said.

The West Chicago Park District Recreation Center will be in Reed-Keppler Park, just west of Turtle Splash Water Park. The 67,000-square-foot center will include various spaces, from basketball courts to aerobics rooms to a kids’ party area.

The center is expected to open fall 2014, Major said.

It will provide much-needed indoor community space, as the park district currently is limited to using old businesses in town as fitness and administration centers and renting gym space from local schools.

The business spaces owned by the park district total about 15,000 square feet.

“West Chicago is one of the few communities that has not had a community recreation center,” Major said.

This need has been recognized by residents, as well. About 70 percent of users who responded to a 2008 park district survey said they were interested in more indoor space.

“It wasn’t a revelation that we needed this type of thing,” Major said. “It was logical, but it was also voiced.”

The public again showed support for the cause by approving a $15.5 million referendum in November to issue bonds to fund the construction of a new recreation center.

For owners of a $250,000 house in the district – the median home price – the cost of the center will be an annual tax payment of about $65 for 25 years.

“Living in West Chicago all my life, I’ve been wanting a rec center since I was a little kid, and we haven’t had the opportunity,” Mayor Ruben Pineda said. “I think everyone’s going to be better off having this in town.”

While programming for the recreation center will be developed in the next year, Major said possibilities include hosting open gyms, volleyball leagues, activities for seniors, indoor birthday parties and wedding receptions.

With the public’s backing, the park district has the opportunity to bring indoor programs to the West Chicago community.

“We can’t thank them enough,” Major said. “It’s their building; it’s not the park district’s.”

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