Lemont Mayor Reaffirms Commitment to Proposed Sports Complex
Mayor Brian Reaves said Wednesday that the village could explore alternative financing options to build a $21 million sports complex near downtown Lemont.
Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves said he remains committed to the village's proposed $21 million sports complex, despite petitions filed last week to put the project on hold.
During his annual State of the Village address Wednesday, Reaves provided a brief update on the controversial proposal to build a 129,000-square-foot athletic facility near downtown Lemont this year by issuing $21 million in alternative revenue bonds.
It was the first time Reaves had spoken publicly about the complex since a citizen group filed 185 pages of petitions to push the issue to referendum on the March 18, 2014 election ballot. The group submitted 1,675 signatures to Village Hall on Feb. 27—more than double the amount needed to postpone the project.
"A process like we did takes a lot of time and work," Reaves said. "We went through that process, and the democratic process that's out there was in place and was fulfilled. I want to be first to thank the individuals that took the time to make the democratic process work."
Plans for the Lemont Sports Complex were unveiled during the Jan. 28 village board meeting, when Reaves said he hoped to put the project on the "fast track" and begin construction this spring.
With the petitions filed and construction on hold, the village will now explore alternative financing options for the complex, Reaves said.
"Any good business man—and that's how I always said I would run the village of Lemont, like a business—has a plan B or another opportunity," Reaves said. "What do we do? We step back, take a minute, regroup and—I hope—within the next three or four weeks we can explore new avenues of financing to keep the process going."
Without talking specifics, Reaves said there have been "a lot of outside opportunities" that have presented themselves since the project was announced that could allow the village to move forward with the proposal.
"I think with the hard work and complete backing I have from the village board and the business community, we can make this work," Reaves said.
Spearheading the petition effort last month was Lemont resident and former District 113A school board member Janet Hughes, who said she and dozens of other residents were shocked by the village’s proposal, and especially, the “fast track” on which it was placed.
“This project came out of nowhere, and $21 million is a lot of money to borrow without much notice,” Hughes said Feb. 27 after submitting the petitions to Village Hall.
With the complex sidelined—at least temporarily—Reaves has still managed to find the silver lining.
"This process has had good and bad, but what it's done is it's made people think. That's the best thing I can take out of this," Reaves said. "We'll keep moving forward, and I'm going to be committed to this during my next four years as mayor."
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