Mayor, Board Still Mulling Private Financing for Sports Complex

Residents spoke up at a Dec. 9 board meeting, demanding more answers from Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves on the status of a proposed $21 million sports complex in Lemont.

Mayor Brian Reaves is closer to determining whether the village will pursue a proposed $21 million, 129,000-square-foot sports complex through private financing.

In response to residents at a Dec. 9 board meeting questioning the project's progress, Reaves said the board is in the "review" stage of talks with a private funding source. Reaves said the current option has greater potential than 4–5 others that did not pan out.

"We're doing our due diligence about whether we will move forward with this," Reaves said. 

Residents at Monday's meeting questioned why Reaves was seemingly ignoring the voices of 1,700 people who signed a petition to push the issue to referendum on the March 18, 2014 election ballot.

Reaves said Tuesday that residents are mistaken about the reason for going to referendum. The board approved an ordinance for a referendum to sell $21 million in bonds to fund the project—not, as many residents think, on whether or not to build the complex. 

"The decision on whether or not to build it is entirely up the board," Reaves said Tuesday.

Reaves has previously admitted 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 previously told Patch. "I understand where that fear is coming from."

If attempts at securing private financing fail, Reaves and the board must then decide if they'll turn to a referendum—a measure that would make moving forward with the project more complicated.

"To get something like this passed is difficult," Reaves said. 

The use of private financing to build the complex would take 100 percent of the burden off of taxpayers, Reaves said. If the complex were to fail, citizens would not be forced to help pay the village's debt. 

Reaves said in March that he hopes to see the Lemont Sports Complex come to fruition during his next four years as mayor.

"There needs to be an economic vehicle that runs and brings people into Lemont," Reaves said. 

 The board is required to file for a referendum by Jan. 9. Reaves said he hopes to have more information by the Dec. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting. 

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Mark Miller December 11, 2013 at 08:58 AM
"The use of private financing to build the complex would take 100 percent of the burden off of taxpayers." Seriously? How? Financing means someone IS ultimately responsible for paying back the $21Million. Who will that be? Brian? I'll bet no on that. Bridgeview residents? No they are stuck paying for Toyota Park. I know. Can you spell Taxpayer? "The board approved an ordinance for a referendum to sell $21 million in bonds to fund the project—not, as many residents think, on whether or not to build the complex." I am sure your constituants will be happy to read that statement explaining how carefully you listened to their concerns. I guess your admission sums it up. "Tunnel Vision"
Renate Meyer December 11, 2013 at 09:35 AM
1700 signatures doesn't even come close to the voting poputlation.......and remember this is Cook County....did any watch group check those signatures. The people complaining about the sports complex are probably the same people that wonder why "in town" Lemont doesn't have any business. And I'd like to ask them....."How many times a week do you frequent a Lemont business?" Change is not a bad thing....
Ann Paul December 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM
That is right Renate, 1700 signature don't come close to the voting population and yes an attorney did check the signatures. The people who signed the petition wanted it to go to referendum so the entire voting population COULD have a voice on this issue. If you have been following this issue, you would also know that no private investor is willing to invest in this complex because our village wants to build it on polluted land we DONT OWN. They do not see the return on their investment, which any person would see as RED FLAGS as to the viability of this complex. You are the rest of the town should be knocking on the mayor's door and ask him why this is so important to him. If private investors don't want it, why do you? Did you also know Romeoville is building one? It will include a state of the art conference center and easy access in an out. Reaves wants to tuck it away under the bridge and if we even get people to use it, it will create nothing but gridlock. To me, he should be exploring other land within our village limits. The whole thing makes me wonder why we are pushing so hard to help the Water Reclamation District. Why haven't any contractors to build this been put through a public hearing as required by law? You should be asking these questions. Others have and still no answers. There is still the belief that the mayor and trustees still are finding a way to bypass the taxpayers and get it built no matter what. Who is benefiting from this?
James L. Rooney December 11, 2013 at 11:22 AM
This sports complex issue can only make sense if the village has written commitments by the users of the complex that will bring in revenue that will be more than make the payments to the debt but also cover the expenses of running such a complex(business venture). JLR
B.S. Buster December 11, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Ann, what difference does it make if the Lemont citizens don't pay for this project? Did you read the petition? It was about financing with taxpayer money. Take that away and it's a private project. All the do gooders and their petition did was to make certain Lemont doesn't have financial risk in the project. So now it's a private project..... Petitions are pretty exact. You petitioned the financing model
B.S. Buster December 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM
But guess what, No risk, means no reward either.... The financing is simple, finance it just like Front Street...privately. Investors take the risk, if any.... And the rewards, if any...
Ann Paul December 11, 2013 at 11:58 AM
I do know exactly what the petition said. Right, if private investors want the risk go for it. But guess what, they don't. They don't see the viability of the project. They do not see any return on their investment. If they don't see it, neither do it. Reaves has said himself that private investors are not buying into it because they are concerned about investing in land WE DONT OWN. If no private investor, it will go to referendum meaning that we, the taxpayers, will be on the hook. We are taxed enough. Too many questions are left unanswered. How about Reaves concentrate on empty business eye sores in this town. e.g., gas station, bowling alley, hallmark, etc. This sports complex will do nothing to help.
B.S. Buster December 11, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Doesn't sound like you read the petition or the article. There is currently no taxpayer funded option in the table. You would probably be surprised at how many successful projects are in land the business owner does not own.....just about every store at the mall to start.... Most business on either side of the canal are on MWRD...
B.S. Buster December 11, 2013 at 12:21 PM
You may also know that the village has taken an active and perhaps even aggressive role in regards to vacant storefronts. The village has spent over $5million and purchased at least 10 unproductive properties, at foreclosure prices, many to aggregate into a larger parcel in order to help create a business zone near Archer and Main Street Of course many people object to doing something there too.
Edward Andrysiak December 11, 2013 at 02:43 PM
I don't know why some are hyper and venting all the negativity. The Mayor get's it! Taxpayers do not want to be liable for the debt. At least some taxpayers do not...if he can't get private funding and goes for the referendum, the greater majority of Lemonters will have to decide and vote accordingly. A close look and study of the business model should be done before deciding on this. Issues like who owns the land just might be a big positive regarding taxes etc and contribute to the bottom line. Investors want to make money...if the business model shows them that they can...we could get private money. Relax and give this the time it deserves. It is a big undertaking!
Hank Olenick December 16, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Joe Mann December 17, 2013 at 08:16 AM
Here we go again. Didn't the village of Lemont make their point with the petition last year? Looks like the mayor and town board won't take no for an answer from the taxpayers. What do you do with politicians who do not respect the peoples wishes?
B.S. Buster December 17, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Maybe you can start by running against them if you disagree with their leadership. The incumbents didn't run into any opposition the last few elections. As far as the petition, that was for public funding of the project. This is publicly noted on the village website
Rose Baker December 17, 2013 at 01:26 PM
B.S. – You should read more carefully. The $2M was to pay for the shortfall when revenue from the complex was unable to support the bond obligation. The pledge not fulfilled was paying the bonds when the complex could not. Build it and Lemont can be just like them
B.S. Buster December 17, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Yes that's correct. Chalk one up for hank! For "all the" municipalities stuck with these bills I would expect more and closer to home than MN. But it's a good find for 6 months work
Hank Olenick December 17, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Thank you Rose , It's very nice to see that people can actually comprehend the article.
B.S. Buster December 17, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Yes I'm sure you want to take your moment.....almost a year to find an example of "all the failures".
B.S. Buster December 19, 2013 at 08:58 AM
All you have to do is invest a lot if time and money! Then you sit back and get skewered by do nothing people sitting back on the couch at home..... But you can make about $1000 a month so there is an up side for your efforts. Wonder why no takers?
Joe Mann December 27, 2013 at 07:07 PM
A grand a month? Is that why the mayor does it. Or is it because he gets to spend the taxpayers blank check on projects that will net him some political capital?
B.S. Buster December 27, 2013 at 07:18 PM
What political capital does one need? No one has run against the incumbents in at least 2 elections.
Renate Meyer December 27, 2013 at 08:22 PM
You're all getting off the subject....don't be like the politicians and do all the rhetoric.....stick to the facts.
Hank Olenick December 27, 2013 at 09:30 PM
A handful of people stand to make a lot of money on this project...Long after their checks are cashed and the project fails, the burden will drop directly on the homeowners tax bill.


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