Daily Journal logo

The Kankakee Valley Park Board OK’d a $3.25 million bond issue at Monday’s commissioners meeting at the Bird Park Administration building.

The park district has a laundry list of capital improvements that need to be addressed, and the board had to decide how much of a bond to sell. It had discussed at previous meetings the amount would not exceed the $3.25 million but could go as low as $2.2 million.

After a long debate on how much of a bond to issue, it voted 3-1 for the $3.25 million on the recommendation of executive director Dayna Heitz with the support of board president Ray Eads. Heitz said the capital needs are great, bond interests rates are low and the district would save money on fees by selling the full $3.25 million instead of coming back a year or two later and sell more.

“Essentially we’re going to be paying less fees over time,” she said. “I think it’s a win-win for the district,” she said.

Included on the list of capital projects are the paving of the drive from the River Road softball fields to the dog park, playgrounds for Mayor Dailey and Bert Dear parks, tennis court repair and resurface at Cobb Park, a pickle ball court at Beckman or Cobb park, and updates to the Ice Valley Centre. Those are just a handful of many needed improvements.

“We’ve had this discussion and you’ve been on the board much longer than I have,” Eads said. “You know that the needs of the district far exceed that $2.2 million. This is not a penny for Splash Valley. I know that the sentiment of the board and that’s fine. But the needs are so great. Even $3 million will not cover all the capital needs. So I want you to give serious consideration to allowing the district to max out the request, so we can meet as many capital needs as possible.”

Board attorney David Freeman made the point that any project more than $10,000 has to come before the board for a vote and any amount greater than $25,000 has to through a bid process.

“I don’t want any of you to think because we’re giving staff, at their request, more money, they get to run around, spending more money without your prior approval,” he said.

Board member Michael Matthews was concerned about adding another million dollars to the amount the board would have to pay back. Heitz said the maximum amount is still within the district’s debt services.

“I’m trying to understand everyone’s perspective, so that I can make an intelligent decision based on what I believe the needs are for our community,” Matthews said. “I see several points, and they’re all kind of overlapping.”

Ultimately, Matthews voted for the maximum amount along with Eads and Bill Spriggs. Don Palmer voted against the $3.25 million amount, and commissioner Dave Skelly was absent from the meeting.

Spriggs said, “it’s a lot of money,” but he agreed with other board members that there’s a lot of need.

“Our stewardship is active right now,” Spriggs said. “We’re doing this. Remember there’s more than a park in you neighborhood, there are parks everywhere.”

In a related matter the board decided not to move forward with having a consultant give a presentation on putting together a comprehensive master plan.

Although the money would come from the bond, the general consensus was that the estimated cost of $80,000 to $100,000 was too much for the district to spend on the plan at this time.

Associate Editor

Chris Breach is the Associate Editor of The Daily Journal and the editor of the business section. A graduate of Indiana University, Breach has more than 25 years experience in newspapers. He can be reached at cbreach@daily-journal.com.