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Riverside Park plans near completion for grant application

SYCAMORE – Sycamore Park District Executive Director Dan Gibble said current plans for a $1.2 million sports complex project will not include a sixth ball field, since Illinois grant money does not allow funds to be used for nonrecreational use; however the field will still be in the works, but paid for by other means.

Around a dozen residents showed up Tuesday for a public hearing on the 92-acre complex, tentatively named Riverside Park, which will be located south of the current sports complex at 435 Airport Road.

The complex has been the topic of several public discussion already, and plans were approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission in early July. The city council voted unanimously to support the final plat for the plans July 15, which will allow the park district to begin development this summer.

The 92-acre complex was originally priced at $1.6 million, but the Park District lost out on a $400,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Gibble said Tuesday that the district will look to apply for an additional $400,000 OSLAD grant through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources this fall.

Joe Runowiecki, president of the Sycamore Youth Baseball league, asked for clarification on a sixth ball field since concept plans shown Tuesday did not illustrate the field.

Gibble said he could not elaborate on specific plans for the sixth field, but alluded to it being used by school teams.

“I think it’s inappropriate to talk about the specifics of that sixth field because it will, in the end, benefit your group and others,” Gibble told Runowiecki. “To talk about it right now would be stepping on some toes that would be able to help pay for that field. So it’s going to happen, but it can’t be in this grant application.”

Gibble said OSLAD would disqualify the district’s grant application if there were any “interscholastic purposes” instead of recreational fields in the concept proposal.

Gibble said the $400,000 has nothing to do with that specific field. He did not elaborate on funding options for the sixth field.

“The drawing represents not the end product, but the grant application,” Gibble said.

“We want that field to be there, but we want the grant to be successful because we really need that money,” district commissioner Michelle Schulz said. “And we know long term the field is going to end up there. It’s just patience and letting a whole lot of people work out the details.”

In addition to ball diamonds, the project also will include accessible paths, playground, two shelters, a concession and scorekeeping building with bathrooms and a parking lot.

The complex will be the newest development in Action 2020, a project that has resulted in the construction of a new Community Center that opened in April of last year, a sled hill and a dog park, the Great Western Trail expansion and the expansion of the existing sports complex.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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