Park district board: Update given on winter projects

REC Center membership increases seen

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ROCHELLE — At its monthly meeting Monday, the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District Board of Commissioners heard an update from Executive Director Jackee Ohlinger on ongoing maintenance projects. 

Ohlinger said park district crews have been working on clearing shrubs and willows along the shoreline at Lake Sule in an effort to clean it up and rid it of invasive plants. At Spring Lake, the pool’s heater and pumps were cleaned and maintenanced recently and the splash pad’s caulk was removed and replaced.

A new submersible contractor pump for Spring Lake Pool and some parks was purchased due to the old pump being well over 20 years old and it was unable to be rebuilt. The park district is also in talks with landscaping contractors about work that needs to be done on the embankment areas at Spring Lake.

“We had some grass in those areas that was installed in our recent renovations that didn't take off that we've had to basically kill off,” Ohlinger said. “We'll work to replant and we've also talked about adding some beautification landscaping around our entrance signs at some of our anchor parks.”

At last month’s meeting, a capital committee was put together to look at the future of the Helms outdoor complex. That committee met last week and brainstormed ideas for the facility and an update will be presented to the board in the future on ideas or items the committee wants to address in a future capital project at the facility.

Ohlinger mentioned other projects including meeting with a lighting company to address issues at the ball fields at Tilton Park, replacing the flooring at Spring Lake Marina and a new playground design for Memorial Park.

Numbers

Ohlinger said that the REC Center has seen increases recently in all aspects of its memberships. It’s nearly at the 2,400 mark for enrollment and has seen a 10 percent jump in members. 

“This is the time of year where people want to get into the gym and they can't be outside,” Ohlinger said. “This is always where we see higher numbers. I believe this month we're just nine members shy of our highest member numbers ever, which was last December.”

The park district has “a lot of” long-term renters that are utilizing The REC Center or other facilities including Studio C Dance, Kishwaukee College, Kiwanis Golden K and Rochelle Rotary Club.

“We've also seen use by several different softball programs along with Rochelle Little League,” Ohlinger said. “All of these organizations use our facilities for multi-term agreements and we're thankful to have them.”

The REC has also seen high usage lately in the winter months by a number of its own sports programs such as swimming and basketball.

Bonds

The board unanimously approved an ordinance issuing approximately $935,000 of general obligation park bonds and approximately $300,000 of taxable general obligation park bonds as it does each year to finance capital improvements. 

The bonds will be issued through Stillman Bank and Ohlinger said the park district was fortunate to receive “competitive” rates that were lower than what it previously estimated.

Easement

The board unanimously approved a permanent easement for the City of Rochelle in an area of its Midwest Park location for the relocation of sewers and utilities to accommodate the reconstruction and widening of the Seventh Avenue bridge.

The project will also include regrading, widening and stabilization of Kyte Creek from Seventh Avenue for about 100 feet and will help with more efficient drainage. 

“This is a low-lying, no-value end of that park that sees no activity and it would be hard to make it worse off,” Board President Tim Hayden said.

Audit

The board heard an audit report on its finances by Lauterbach & Amen LLP and unanimously approved it.

Kickball

The board unanimously approved an exception to one of its ordinances to allow for alcohol at the third annual Kickin’ it for a Cause kickball tournament it holds with the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce at VFW Park. The event is planned for May 13 and funds raised benefit the park district’s ENGAGE program and the chamber’s scholarship program. 

“Last year we saw more teams and it went well,” Ohlinger said. “It was really a lot of fun and was a great community event.”