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Park District seeks grant for indoor sports training facility

WEST CHICAGO – An indoor sports training facility might be coming to Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago, if the West Chicago Park District receives a grant to fund the majority of the project.

The district is applying for a Park and Recreational Facility Construction Act grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources that would cover as much as 75 percent of the estimated $3 million project cost.

The proposed facility would be separate from the recreation center under construction at Reed-Keppler Park, which is being funded through a referendum passed by West Chicago voters in November 2012.

The training facility would provide features that didn’t make it into the recreation center project, Executive Director Gary Major said.

“This would be a really nice extension of the recreation center,” he said.

The facility would include an artificial turf field and an informational area about the Dyer Nature Sanctuary in Reed-Keppler Park, Major said. A specialized athletic training space would likely be part of the facility as well.

Having an indoor turf area would provide a practice space for Park District athletic programs when outdoor weather conditions are not ideal, he said.

“Right now, travel teams are looking for somewhere to practice, and that would be a perfect orientation for them,” Major said.

The facility also could be used for events.

If the district receives a grant, the proposed project will not have an effect on residents’ taxes. If a grant does not come through, then the Park District will not proceed with the training facility, Major said.

The potential outcome for taxpayers was one of the biggest reasons West Chicago resident Steve Usedom attended one of two public meetings about the grant application.

Usedom attended a meeting Feb. 4. A second meeting was scheduled Feb. 11, but no members of the public attended.

He said he would be strongly against the facility if it would require an increase in taxes, but if the district receives the grant, he supports the project.

Usedom also was worried about the proposal of adding another building to Reed-Keppler Park.

“I was concerned that the building of another facility would take up open space,” he said.

Usedom coached little league baseball for about eight years with the Park District and was pleased to find out the facility would be located where an old maintenance building now stands and so would replace an existing building at the southwest corner of the park.

“The cool thing is that it would really clean up that side of the park,” Major said.

The application is due in early March, and Major said he’s not sure when the Park District will find out if it is being awarded a grant. He expects that won’t happen until late summer, at the earliest.

If the district receives a grant, the project could break ground in spring or summer 2015, he said.

“It’s very important that we put together a good grant and presentation, and we’ll just see how things go,” Major said.

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