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Land acquisition for proposed Woodridge rec center to go to courts next year

WOODRIDGE – The Village of Woodridge’s pursuit of property to build an athletic recreation center is expected to go to court in February.

The village and the park district are seeking eminent domain to acquire approximately four acres of land at the northeast corner of 83rd Street and Janes Avenue, where the two entities hope to build a long-awaited and much-needed athletic facility.

The property is currently home to the 16-unit Janes Avenue Plaza shopping center owned by Mel Spohn.

Spohn calls the village’s attempt to take over the property “disgraceful.”

“Eminent domain was meant to provide land for roads and bridges, not recreation centers,” Spohn said.

The Village of Woodridge did make an offer to purchase the shopping center property, but that offer was turned down by Spohn.

“Not enough [was offered] I can tell you that,” Spohn said.

A survey of residents conducted by the Woodridge Park District in 2010 determined the community saw a need for a rec center, according to park district executive director Mike Adams.

“We’re limited on time and space [at the Community Center],” Adams said. “It’s been pretty clear that there’s a need for more indoor programming space geared toward athletics, fitness and health.

“We’ve grown leaps and bounds by population over the years.”

The proposed rec center would lie within the Janes Avenue TIF District, and approximately $2 million in TIF funds would be used to acquire a portion of the land and fund a portion of the construction.

In total, the rec center is projected to cost about $18.6 million, with another $2.5 million in grants funding construction. The remaining costs would be covered through reserve funds, Adams said.

If the courts rule in favor of the village, the village will work to relocate the seven businesses currently in the shopping center, Community Development Director Michael Mays said, adding that there are potential locations for the businesses throughout town.

“We will be putting together information on potential sites,” Mays said.

If the village is not granted eminent domain, the park district has planned an alternative location at Orchard Hill Park, just south of Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park, Adams said.

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