Park Board Seeks Grant of Up to $2.5 Million

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Published on March 6 2014 9:16 pm
Last Updated on March 7 2014 1:27 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham Park Board has voted to seek a grant of up to $2.5 million to help finance construction of the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center.

Park District Director Jeff Althoff said the District is looking to bond up to $5.5 million in debt certificates.  Althoff said the grant would significantly reduce the amount of debt certificates that would have to be sold.  He said the federal grant is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  

Althoff said the amount of the grant won't exceed $2.5 million, and could be less than that amount.

As to the debt certificates, the Park District has issued up to $500,000 in bonds each year for the past several years and then used tax revenue to pay off the bond by the end of the year.  The plan is to do the same thing with the debt certificates, meaning that taxes won't increase to pay for the project.

Althoff is hopeful about receiving the grant funds, feeling that the local effort is "farther along" in the process than other entities that will be seeking the funding.  The grant guidelines state that actual construction of the project can't have begun before the grant is awarded.  The Board also had to pledge that 100% of the project costs will be in place before the work begins.

Althoff hopes to know whether the Park District is awarded the grant by mid to late April.

During a public comment time on the project Wednesday, local resident Jodi Waymoth voiced her support.  Waymoth said as a swim team mom, having an indoor competitive swim pool would eliminate two to three trips to Mattoon each week so her kids can keep in shape between swim seasons.  Waymoth said she was glad the Park District took up the mantle after the City decided against pursuing the project.

In other business Wednesday, the Park Board hired local CPA Mark Kenter to conduct the fiscal year audit.  Althoff reported that the winter weather took its toll on roads and parking areas in district parks.  He said other project priorities won't allow asphalting work this summer, but said the District will oil and chip the surfaced areas in cooperation with the City.

Althoff reported that construction is almost complete on a concession stand and pavilion on the west edge of Community Park, and said work will begin to construct a maintenance building at Evergreen Hollow Park and to repair batting cages damaged by the wet winter snowload.