By Jean Lotus
The Park District of Forest Park will issue two new bonds for $4.5 million and $1.25 million next month to pay for future use of the Roos property and to refinance two previous bonds issued in 2003 and 2006.
The total amount borrowed by the park district will be no more than $5.75 million, according to legal notice documents filed with the Forest Park Review.
Of that, around $3 million will go toward improvement of the Roos property, as the park district considers the desires of the community, said Director Larry Piekarz.
Another $2 million will go toward refinancing the two previous bonds, an alternate revenue source bond, Series 2003A and a general obligation (alternate revenue source) bond Series 2006B.
Of the money borrowed, Piekarz said the park district would use $5.3 million with the balance going to bond fees.
The park board voted to issue the second, smaller bond on Sept. 5 after they realized they had initially underestimated the costs of refunding the past bonds and creating a fund for Roos property improvements, Piekarz said.
Piekarz said after purchasing the Roos property for $499,000 and starting demolition, the park's Roos account has roughly $1.1 million left. This was money authorized by a referendum increase of 12 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, approved by voters in February 2010.
Grants are also being sought to help improve the property, Piekarz said. The park district is applying for a $200,000 brownfield cleanup grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he said. The park administration is exploring a grant from the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources for open space land acquisition, he added.
"I have been lucky enough to meet with local legislators about this, and the state may be willing to help," Piekarz said. "Are we going for some grant dollars? Yes."
In November the park district will begin to host public meetings, asking residents what they want in the new space. A tentative meeting/coffee is scheduled for Saturday morning, Nov. 16, with other evening meetings following in January, he said.
The alternate bond financial instrument, also called a "back door referendum," is a bond issued in lieu of a revenue bond, which does not require approval by the voters. The bond can be put to vote at a special election on March 18 if 672 registered voters (or 7.5 percent) sign petitions submitted to the park board secretary within 30 days of publication in a local newspaper. The deadline for submission of those signatures would be Oct. 25.