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Developer contributions from a new residential project underway on Route 45 will allow the Vernon Hills Park District to make an early payment on a $2 million loan from the village.
Village officials recently approved a change in the agreement regarding the terms of a $2.025 million loan it made in late 2012 to allow the park district to buy the former YMCA building and property, now known as the Lakeview Fitness Center.
Facing financial difficulties, the YMCA was going to close. Rather than let what was considered a community asset slip away, village officials agreed to an interest-free loan to the park district for a 13-year term with no payment due until 2016.
But the park district has opted to make an early payment during the next 18 months of $605,800 to the village. That amount represents half of the park impact fees from the Oaks of Vernon Hills, a 304-unit apartment community.
"It's an opportunity for us to reduce our debt quicker and, I think in this case, smarter," said Jeff Fougerousse, executive director of the park district.
"When we did this (loan) agreement, we didn't know there would be any developer impact fees (coming) to us," he added.
Under the loan agreement, the district was required to split any park donation fees it received with the village. In this case, the Oaks is not expected to be completed until mid-2015, meaning the village was not scheduled received any donation fees from the district until 2016.
In light of the early payment, the agreement has been revised so the park district will begin repaying the loan in 2019 in 10 equal annual installments. The park district also has the option to share early any future donation fees with the village.
The park district wanted the former YMCA, in part, because it did not have an indoor pool. Since it assumed ownership, the district has completed a major renovation of the facility and the center is doing well, Fougerousse said.
He said the operating deficit by the end of the budget year on May 31 is expected to be between $25,000 and $50,000 compared to $500,000 last year.
"Our membership is still growing, our programs are still growing," he said. The district also has applied for a $2.5 million state grant to expand the pool from four to six lanes, add a full-size gym, install an elevated walk and run track and other improvements. The cost of that proposed project is $6 million.