Lemont Sports Complex: Mayor Apologizes, Village to Pursue Private Funding
Mayor Brian Reaves said Monday that the village will explore private financing options to build a $21 million sports complex near downtown Lemont that would take the burden off taxpayers.
Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves apologized to residents Monday for inciting fear and concerns over the village's proposed $21 million sports complex.
Moving forward, he said, the village will consider private funding options that take 100 percent of the burden off taxpayers.
During the Lemont Village Board meeting Monday night, Reaves took several minutes during his mayor's report to address the village's controversial proposal to build a 129,000-square-foot athletic facility near downtown Lemont this year by issuing $21 million in alternative revenue bonds.
Referencing comments he made when plans for the Lemont Sports Complex were unveiled Jan. 28—that he planned to "fast track" the project and begin construction this spring—Reaves said his intention was to capitalize on a business opportunity, not disregard residents' opinions.
"It was all tied to a business decision," Reaves said. "When you have a business decision that saves the village money, creates an entity of economic development and payments for bonds wouldn't come until 12 months later ... It was a business opportunity and it needed to be acted on quickly."
Reaves said he realized after speaking with residents over the past four weeks that he may have had "tunnel vision" with regards to the complex.
"In listening to the citizens of Lemont and doing some soul searching and taking a step back, I understand where a lot of people are coming from. It is a lot of money. There is a fear if something did it happen that it would go on the tax rolls," Reaves said. "I understand where that fear is coming from."
"What I would like to express tonight is that if I offended some people, I truly apologize for making any statement that might have placed fear in people's minds that we were moving forward in a reckless manner and not doing our due diligence," he said.
Reaves' comments come nearly two weeks after 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.
With the project on hold, Reaves said the village plans to pursue private financing options that would take the risk away from taxpayers. He said the agreement would be well researched and thought out before being presented publicly.
"I want to make sure the community knows what we're doing," Reaves said. "No one challenged the petitions. If other funding cannot be secured, then we will go to referendum next spring."
Reiterating comments made during his state of the village address Wednesday, Reaves said he hopes to see the Lemont Sports Complex come to fruition during his next four years as mayor.
"We have had support that is incredible based on our initial announcement of the (complex), and I'm 100 percent committed—as I know this board is—to making this vision become a reality," Reaves said.
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