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Village Vision News

Community Center progress report

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Multi-phase sports complex may be part of long-term plan

For more than two years — going back to late 2016 — a committee of volunteers has been working on a plan to build a community center in the Village of Forsyth. At the February 18 Board meeting, Trustee Bob Gruenewald brought trustees up to date on the project. The discussion involved some history of the project thus far, two potential designs, how to operate such a facility and potential locations, among other items.


The nine-member committee, chaired by Gruenewald, includes Trustees Kerry Denison and David Wendt, Chris Downey, Frank Ferracane, Brandon Janvrin, Benny Lourash, Kaushik Sojitra and Village Administrator David Strohl.

Gruenewald noted that the committee partnered with a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study that determined that such a facility was financially feasible and sustainable based on anticipated demand and for the potential to host tournaments and events.

BLDD architects developed conceptual floor plans, exterior renderings and rough cost estimates. The floor plans are not buildable at this point but for discussion purposes.

The initial discussions show that the Village has the ability — without any funding shortfall — to build a facility that does not include an aquatic center. The preferred option, however, would be to include an indoor aquatic center in the design. In that preferred design, there is a funding gap of an estimated $3.5 million.

Both designs have room for potential expansion, and beyond the aquatic feature, would include fitness centers, cardio and weights, a track, courts, locker rooms, kitchen, offices and community rooms.

The estimated cost for the preferred option with an aquatics center is $14 million, paid for with $6.5 million from General Fund reserves; $1 million from Hotel/Motel Tax fund reserves; and $3 million in bonds. The remaining $3.5 million gap would need to be raised from a variety of sources.

A similar design but without an aquatic feature would cost about $9.5 million and would be sourced through the General Fund ($6.5 million), Hotel/Motel Tax fund reserves ($1 million) and from bonds ($2 million). Private funding would not be needed for this option.

When survey results came back from residents in November 2016 at a remarkable 40-percent rate of response (739 total responses), a large percentage were in favor of the project.

“Eighty-one percent think we should proceed,” Gruenewald said in December of 2016 describing the results. He added then that the project was “strongly supported.”

The wish list for responders broke down as follows: a fitness/exercise facility was the top amenity on almost 70 percent of the surveys, with the next five most preferred amenities in order included an indoor swimming pool (53.5 percent); indoor walking/jogging track (53 percent); multi-purpose banquet/meeting center (43.5 percent); an outdoor swimming pool (39 percent); and indoor courts for volleyball, basketball and pickleball (32.5 percent).

In addition, the committee toured several similar nearby facilities, including Effingham, Taylorville, and the Decatur YMCA. The group has also met with the Y and Gold’s Gym to learn more about facility operations.

Depending on which design is chosen, operations and maintenance, in addition to debt service, are projected to outpace revenues by nearly $91,000 or just shy of $161,000.

Future talks will center on identifying corporate and private donors for funding sponsorships, looking into the possibility of teaming up with a hospital or therapy center to be part of the project and zeroing in on a location.

No action was taken.

Coming in the next Village Vision: Trustees are discussing making the proposed Community Center part of a larger outdoor sports complex that would be located north of County Highway 20. A sports complex, if it is to happen, would be built over time and in phases, with the intention of funding it in part through one or more grants.

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