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Supporters Go to Bat for Lemont Sports Complex

One resident called the $21-million complex a "win-win-win," during a Jan. 27 board meeting. Supporters teamed up and shared their views on the controversial facility.

Supporters of an oft-debated, controversial proposed sports complex in Lemont came ready to play Monday night. 

Lemont residents with children in travel sports voiced their approval of the $21-million project, pointing to their observations of sport-related revenue and visitor traffic as possible boons for the village. 

"This is an opportunity that we do NOT want to lose," said Pat Stanton, Lemont resident and business owner. "I think it will bring a tremendous amount of jobs and opportunity." 

Mayor Brian Reaves's vision for the 129,000-square-foot complex has some residents concerned about repercussions of potential shortfall in revenue, some saying the local community does not reflect the need for such a facility. 

But parents at Monday's village board meeting painted the complex as a magnet for the travel sports community.

Many parents detailed busy weekends spent shuttling children between different sports facilities, along with money spent shopping local restaurants and stores. Resident Jen Egan said she uses her time in between her kids' travel games to tackle everyday errands, in stores nearby a facility.

"I think it really could spill over into the rest of the community," Egan said. "I would be very proud to have something like that in our community."

Local athletes need a facility nearby where they can develop their skills more fully, said Jason Nash, President of Lemont Hornets Football and Lemont Bears Wrestling. As a feeder program for Lemont High School, many of the league's players go on to compete for LHS. 

"I've seen the need for this sports complex for years," Nash said. "We will continue to maintain a competitive edge, and I feel this complex will help us do that."

Parent Mike Gardner told the board if they build it, "We'll bring the teams."

Residents have expressed skepticism that the facility will bring in an amount close to the projected revenue, and financing for the project has also come under scrutiny. Board members earlier in January fully backed private financing for the complex, repealing an ordinance that called for it to be paid for with bonds. The revoked ordinance would have enabled the village to use facility revenue, sales tax, income tax and tax increment finance funds to fund the complex.

It also allowed for residents to petition for a referendum about purchasing the bonds—an option they exercised by collecting 1,700 signatures to demand the issue be put on the March 2014 ballot.

Repealing the ordinance nixed the need for the bonds, and squashed the possibility of a referendum.

Several audience members Monday pressed the board to give residents a vote on the complex. One urged the board to continue its pursuit. 

"There is little downside to this," Stanton said. "This is a win-win-win.

"Fight for it. Put every effort you can into it." 

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Harold Hodenicki February 05, 2014 at 01:09 PM
It was an offhand comment that should have been properly vetted prior to submission ... I apologize and hereby recant my comparison to the Packers. Misguided reference notwithstanding, you can make this a private stock offerings for investors that allow everyone to participate in this financial boom the new facility will bring this community. I am opposed to the public being liable for what should be a private investment AND I would like to be one of those private investors.
Harold Hodenicki February 05, 2014 at 01:13 PM
Second point ... the first part taken directly from the April budget meeting ... FY 2013-14 Budget Highlights On April 22, 2013 Village Board held a public hearing on the proposed budget and passed an ordinance approving the Fiscal Year 2013-14 Annual Operating and Capital Improvement Budget. •Total estimated revenues (all funds) including transfers: $22,176,374 •Total proposed expenditures (all funds) including transfers: $21,075,174 •Total estimated revenues for general fund including transfers: $9,029,850 •Total proposed expenditures for general fund including transfers: $8,749,627 A $21 million liability for the tax payers of this town is equal to almost 100% of annual revenue ....
B.S. Buster February 05, 2014 at 02:10 PM
So it seems the potential annual risk is less than 10% of that budget.... Assuming no one rents the facility, even once...
JOEL WHITEHOUSE February 07, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Let's vote. If this is such a "win–win–win"- as Brian claims, investors would be beating down the doors to village hall to write checks. I have no problem if Brian, or his company, wants to financially back the project. He can retain naming rights for the facility, "Brian's field of contaminated dreams".
B.S. Buster February 07, 2014 at 11:45 AM
That ship has already sailed....
Hank Olenick February 07, 2014 at 12:50 PM
THE REAL ISSUE : University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson has studied sports complexes and says opponents are right to be skeptical. The local market is too saturated with such developments, he said. If the project really were so lucrative, he argued, a private developer already would have built it. "If the project doesn't come through, who's financially responsible?" Sanderson said. "In these things, the mayor's personal income and savings should be where the money comes from."
Hank Olenick February 07, 2014 at 02:39 PM
B.S. Buster January 31, 2014 at 10:55 am And Lemont isn't Bridgeview or Lombard either. Nor are any if these projects similar in size scope or intended audience. But while your comparing apples to watermelons to concrete blocks you might as well consider something other than a few failures.... Other local community failures AREN'T a fair comparison ...but now your comparison is the Olympics ?
B.S. Buster February 09, 2014 at 08:38 AM
As you have stated, people travel 3 states for a beer, they also travel for competition they train for
Hank Olenick February 09, 2014 at 02:56 PM
University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson has studied sports complexes and says opponents are right to be skeptical. The local market is too saturated with such developments, he said. If the project really were so lucrative, he argued, a private developer already would have built it. "If the project doesn't come through, who's financially responsible?" Sanderson said. "In these things, the mayor's personal income and savings should be where the money comes from." Pony up ...Reaves if their is so much profit to be made jump in ...The taxpayers don't want your money sucking , white elephant.
B.S. Buster February 09, 2014 at 05:04 PM
Hank, did you friend mention what the saturation point was? When was it met? Is that based on # of fields? Square feet? How many teams? That's the difference between opinion and a study.... The details....
Victor Fischer February 09, 2014 at 05:27 PM
B.S. - Since you seem to know all, are you aware that Romeoville hired a marketing consulting firm specializing in sport and event complexes to help promote their facility. It was a one year contract. This facility is almost complete and is on a major road leading into and out of Romeoville with numerous fast food facilities. Where does this leave Lemont with the facility being on a dead end road and all the fast food facilities on the other end of town. Doesn't this indicate that Lemont's proposed facility is in the wrong area, and if possibly built elsewhere would have brought in outside funding, which the mayor said was the main concern of outside funding.
B.S. Buster February 09, 2014 at 05:36 PM
So are these kinds of facilities successful or not? Seems like hiring a marketing firm, like Lemont did too, is the way to go. I'm glad you agree! Hank thinks the better ideas are general statements in the paper
Victor Fischer February 09, 2014 at 05:47 PM
You completely twisted my statement around. I don't agree with you. Romeoville hired the consulting firm in Dec of 2013 until Nov 2013 to generate business not do a marketing study. The same company that prepared the original study for Romeoville prepared the study for Lemont and used much of the information used to build the Core along with pictures of the Core not the proposed sports complex. If you read the available documents you fill see that Lemont is working on a lot of assumptions made in the original 2013. Look at the documents and you will see what we are talking about. Much of what is stated in in direct competition with the Park District Core, now they lose.
B.S. Buster February 09, 2014 at 06:31 PM
Which documents are you talking about? Do you have documents that show this project won't produce enough revenue to pay the financing?
Hank Olenick February 09, 2014 at 10:28 PM
You're , it's third grade grammar. Idiot.
Victor Fischer February 09, 2014 at 10:46 PM
Then why are you so intent on building the sport complex on land that is a brownfield and needs to be rented for $5,000 per month, and has the right to take the land back.
B.S. Buster February 10, 2014 at 10:03 AM
Do you have a better plan to get that brownfield under remediation under user fees? That land has stood as is for well over a decade while several different administrations have tried to get it cleaned up. Do you have a better plan? Let's hear about it.
Victor Fischer February 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM
Number one, why should Lemont pay to clean up land that belongs to the Sanitary District. As for the information, all the documents are available on line and also under the FOIA.
B.S. Buster February 10, 2014 at 01:01 PM
er Number one, MWRD has not cleaned up that land for over a decade, leaving Lemont residents to look at it and breathe in the vapors every time the wind blows. Numerous administrations have attempted to "force" them into remediation, you see the results. I am satisfied with the information I have seen and the hard working people that have come up with the only action oriented plan aimed aimed to solve a long standing village issue with a neighbor that won't take corrective action, but will now allow us to act. And the beauty is your taxes don't pay for it, other peoples money, in the form of user fees pay for it. That's the win-win-win. In all those foias did you see any other action plan over there? The village leaders have presented their case. Where is yours?
Victor Fischer February 10, 2014 at 01:27 PM
If that is the case, how is it that Lemont and the EPA forced the cleanup of the MWSD to clean up the area on route 83. It it that there was still a renter on the property. Either way, Lemont did and does not own the property. The cleanup of the Tri-Central area is close to or exceeds $1 million. Why should Lemont taxpayers pay the bill, or is it that our mayor was trying to get Paul on the Sanitary District board. More information from Lemont newsletters.
B.S. Buster February 10, 2014 at 01:34 PM
You read all those foias didn't you? Which one says Lemont pays the bills? The ones I read say that the entire project, from remediation to operating expenses will be paid by user fees. Now you don't sound too athletic, so it doesn't mean you.....it's right there in all those foias you claim to have read. Btw who is mwsd?
Victor Fischer February 10, 2014 at 05:04 PM
You evidently didn't read the correspondence between the Sanitary District and Lemont. The Sanitary District stated that Lemont would pay for the cleanup. The operation of the complex and bond cost is to be paid for by means of user fees.
B.S. Buster February 10, 2014 at 05:40 PM
You evidently didn't read the business plan, page 21 site remediation $1mil.... Part of the build costs to be paid by user fees...
B.S. Buster February 11, 2014 at 08:07 AM
Which taxpayer? How much will they pay?
Harold Hodenicki February 11, 2014 at 09:25 AM
Let the people vote
B.S. Buster February 11, 2014 at 09:31 AM
Didn't that ship already sail? Not necessary when property taxes aren't pledged.
B.S. Buster February 11, 2014 at 10:16 AM
The village gets some of its revenue from property taxes. The budget is on line. I agree Lemont needs change... Like a nice 'plex to attract visitors
Victor Fischer February 11, 2014 at 08:09 PM
What is so difficult to understand that if the sales taxes etc. are used to pay the difference on the bond there is little money left for the everyday bills that the sales taxes would normally be used for. Therefore the board would have no choice but to increase taxes, be it sales, user, or property. However you cut it, the money will have to be generated by some means.
B.S. Buster February 11, 2014 at 08:57 PM
Yes, like user fees at the new 'plex. What's so hard to understand?
B.S. Buster February 12, 2014 at 07:50 AM
I thought you stated you were not against the 'plex. Now it sounds like you are against it. And political motivated no less....

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