The expansion of Stuart Sports Complex is set to receive its final village approval by the end of the month.
On Thursday, the Plan Commission unanimously granted the Fox Valley Park District final plat approval and a special use for their planned project, which will add four lighted baseball fields, 11 soccer fields, 674 new parking spaces and a dog park to the complex, just north of Route 30 on the west side.
The large central park currently sports 25 full-size soccer fields and four baseball diamonds. The expansion will allow the park district to meet demand, officials say, even though this current plan is significantly scaled back from the original 2007 proposal.
The Village Board gave their approval to the expansion in September. On Thursday, Fox Valley Park District officials presented their final plans, the ones they hope to build sometime this year. The expansion covers 135 acres, and the agreement includes a land swap—the village will give up a parcel near Route 30 in exchange for park district land behind the police station.
The new Stuart is designed to meld with the police station campus, and includes an extension of Civic Center Drive connecting the two. The village will continue to own property north of Civic Center Drive, where they hope to build a new public works facility, according to Senior Planner Michael Brown. The village will allow the park district to use that land until it’s needed, Brown said.
The park district has also included a future extension of Aucutt Drive into their plans, something that has been on the boards at the village for years. The final details will be worked out in a separate agreement when the time comes to build out the road, Brown said. Schmidt Drive will also be extended to the north, and formed into a cul-de-sac, Brown said.
The park district has about $8.5 million to pay for the complex’s expansion, and that money comes from a 2008 sale of $44.9 million in bonds to fund improvements across the district.
Thursday’s meeting included a public hearing on the project, and one resident, Rhonda Hill of the Lakewood Creek subdivision, asked a few questions. Hill’s house backs up to Route 30, and her back yard will face the soccer fields at the south end of the new Stuart Sports Complex.
Hill asked about whether the lights over the fields would be shut off at a certain time, and Jeff Palmquist, the park district’s director of planning development and grants, assured her they would be out by 11:15 each night. Hill asked about sound as well, and Palmquist said there would be landscaping and buffering to keep the noise down.
Commissioner Steve Jungermann asked if the park district might, in the future, look to revisit the original, more expansive plan, which would have seen 16 new soccer fields and eight new ballfields. Palmquist said their studies have shown that the area can support “two or three more fields at the most.”
The Village Board will get a look at the final plans at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, and will likely vote on it at their Jan. 23 meeting.
Thursday's Plan Commission meeting was also the first for new member Theresa Sperling, who replaces longtime member Clarence Bark, and the last for Jason Bragg, who has served for nine years. Bragg's fellow commissioners paid tribute to him at meeting's end, and Chairman Mildred McNeal-James summed up their thoughts: "You will be missed," she said.
Village President Marilyn Michelini is taking applications for the open Plan Commission seat until Friday. Those interested in applying should send a resume and cover letter by Jan. 20 to Michelini at 200 N. River St., Montgomery, IL 60538, or email it to email@example.com.