Glencoe, News

Glencoe Park District keeps scope of referendum intact, builds toward the November ballot

Glencoe Park District’s plan to pursue a bond referendum survived community input and will make its way to another Park Board review.

Following a Committee of the Whole meeting held on July 2, the park commissioners advanced the referendum for consideration at a July 17 Park Board meeting. Within this decision, they discussed the community input they received and outlined potential wording for the referendum. 

In the spring, the Glencoe Park District introduced the potential for a bond referendum to fund major renovations to several parks and facilities. The district aims to place the referendum on the November 2024 ballot, giving Glencoe voters the final say. 

According to the park district, the $14.7 million bond would not add any additional taxes to current tax bills; however, it will replace the $13.8 million bond taken out in 2005, expected to be paid off in December 2025. If it does not pass, the park district website states that taxpayers would see a drop in the district’s tax rate.

Over the past two months, the park district has been collecting community input through several in-person meetings, a Zoom meeting and a mail survey. The community input findings were presented during the Committee of the Whole meeting. 

According to the presentation, the mail survey received 211 responses, yielding a response rate of approximately 8% and finding that 72% of the respondents supported the proposed referendum in its current form. On the other hand, 19% were against and 9% undecided.

The mail survey also provided insight into the respondents’ prioritization of the proposed project. Respondents ranked the projects from low to high priority. A majority of respondents marked Glencoe Beach as their top priority, while Perlman Boating Beach and the greenhouse at Shelton Park ranked as the lowest priorities for respondents.

Conceptual rendering for the prospective greenhouse at Shelton Park.

Several residents commented on the greenhouse during a virtual comment session on May 13. While some residents expressed excitement for the new space, one resident questioned the driving concern for renovating the greenhouse.

“We found that there was a need for more adult activities within our park system and this is an example of one of those,” Park District Executive Director Lisa Sheppard responded. “This is a great amenity to meet the recreation needs of adults in our community.” 

Meanwhile, during the Committee of the Whole meeting, the main focus of the conversation was Friends Park. According to data collected by the park district, Friends Park is estimated to need replacement by 2033. Park Board President Carol Spain told the board that she received several community comments regarding the upkeep of the over 10-year-old park located in the heart of downtown Glencoe. 

“Friends is the park for everybody,” Park Board Treasurer Michael Covey said. “It’s for the 2-year-olds, up to those 14-year-olds in middle school who go there after school. It’s a highlight park. When you think of the park district, you think of Friends Park.” 

The board debated whether Friends Park should replace the Perlman Boating Beach on the proposed list of projects incorporated in the bond. 

“If we think the community feels really strongly about this, I guess I just don’t really see it as ‘oh, we’re not confident,’” Spain responded. “I think we had four community input sessions in order to get feedback, and if we don’t take feedback, then you could make the argument that we’re not listening to the community.” 

Board Vice President Stefanie Boron emphasized that switching out the projects may be a slippery slope to securing votes. In her opinion, shifting the projects could leave residents wanting more concerns met within the bond and possibly lose voters.

Ultimately, the board decided to move forward with the projected projects, citing the current approval rate. The board emphasized that while the park’s renovation will remain outside of the $14.7 million bond, it remains at the top of the mind for renovation, but the proposed projects will take priority with funding within the referendum. 

The Park District Board also agreed on ballot language that is being developed by its counsel, Kelly Kost, a partner at Chapman and Cutler. Another round of discussions and reviews is set for the Park Board’s July 17 session.

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