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Glen Ellyn Park District may consolidate Main Street, Spring Avenue rec centers

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 2:34 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 3:07 p.m. CDT

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GLEN ELLYN – In response to recent community survey results, the Glen Ellyn Park District will study the feasibility of consolidating its Main Street and Spring Avenue recreation centers to achieve cost savings without decreasing services.

The park district's Board of Commissioners voted Sept. 3 to approve a $25,500 contract with architectural firm PHN Architects, which will work with subcontractor and recreational consultant Heller and Heller on the dual-facility study.

The assessment comes at a time when other entities in Glen Ellyn, including Glen Ellyn School District 41 and the village itself, have expressed interest in the Spring Avenue Recreation Center site, located at 185 Spring Ave.

If the study determines that one of the facilities should close, the firms will be tasked with determining viable options for repurposing that property, park district Executive Director Dave Harris said.

"I think all things should be on the table, whether it's school district, whether it's high school, whether it's the village or other potential public partners," Harris said.

The study is expected to be completed by December.

Acknowledging similarites between the structure and use of both centers and their close proximity to each other, park district officials posed a survey question to park users about whether they would support closing one of the facilities and incorporating those programs elsewhere.

Results of the survey, which concluded last fall, showed nearly half of respondents supported consolidation, while an additional 15 percent had no strong feeling about consolidating the centers versus keeping them both open, according to district records.

"The survey itself, in my opinion, could be interpreted to show that there is fairly broad support at least for the consideration of this study," Commissioner Richard Dunn said.

Of those who approved of consolidation, a majority favored closing the Spring Avenue Recreation Center as opposed to the Main Street facility located at 501 Hill Ave., records show.

Since then, both District 41 and the village of Glen Ellyn have identified the Spring Avenue site as a possible solution to their own space issues.

With aging and overcrowded schools, District 41 has looked within its boundaries for land that could be used for a new school.

At a workshop in July, the Spring Avenue Recreation Center was discussed by school board members as one of many site options for staff to explore.

Glen Ellyn also faces various limitations with its current Civic Center, including a lack of space, security and handicap accessibility, according to village records. At a Village Board workshop in August, the Spring Avenue property was included as an option for the site of a new police station.

The park district is currently in casual conversations with both entities, Harris said.

The study will examine various factors that would influence a potential consolidation, including programs, utilization and maintenance, with the goal of providing a recommendation for the park district.

The recommendation could include closing either of the facilities or continuing to use both. The study will identify cost savings and outline a transition plan if consolidation is recommended.

"There's a lot more discussion and thinking that needs to go on, even after the consultants' report is complete, before we know what to do," said Don St. Clair, a resident involved in the selection of firms for the study. "This is the first step of the process."

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