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Carol Stream resident group makes push for referendum
By Marco Santana | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/26/2010 12:28 PM

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The late push is on to win voter approval for a $37 million referendum proposal in Carol Stream Park District.

Members of a residents group supporting the proposal, which would give the district money it says it needs to build a new recreation center and improve parks, have started a grass-roots campaign to get the word out.

With the Feb. 2 vote fast approaching, "Neighbors for Carol Stream Parks" organizers have visited several community groups and organizations.

One of those organizers, Steve Prang, says the turnout and feedback has been encouraging.

"I do believe we can have a positive impact," he said. "It's very exciting and very encouraging. We have mustered a lot of support."

Organizers have been stressing the park district's claim that residents' tax rates would remain the same if the referendum question passes. The district plans to refinance and extend existing debt at lower rates.

Owners of a home valued at $300,000 currently pay about $370 a year to the park district. That number would decrease by $30 in 2020 if the referendum fails. If it passes, the tax rate will stay the same but residents' tax bills could still fluctuate based on changes to their home values.

The location for the proposed recreation center has yet to be determined but the district has focused on two sites: Town Center at Gary Avenue and Lies Road and on North Avenue between Kuhn Road and Bennet Drive.

If passed, between $17 million and $20 million would be set aside for the recreation center. The next-highest amount would go toward repaving and extending trails as well as handling flooding issues throughout the district.

Former park Commissioner Ginny Gillespie said the group has visited Glenbard North High School Boosters, the Knights of Columbus and parent-teacher groups, among others.

Along with a new recreation center, the park district hopes the money will allow it to build an off-leash dog park, provide better lighting for paths and sports fields and better maintenance.

Many of the ideas were the result of surveys sent to the same groups, said Gillespie, who was on the board from 2002 to 2008.

"We are getting very little negativity on this," she said. "We are getting so much support it's incredible."

With the referendum just a week away, supporters hope to start taking out newspaper ads and continuing speaking with groups they have missed so far.

Last week, they started placing yard signs throughout the community. Prang said he is cautiously optimistic about the election.

"We're just out doing the best we can with spreading the word," Prang said. "We are reminding them and making sure the people get out and help us deliver the vote on election day. I'm feeling good."