Multiple multi-purpose sports pitches, a domed regulation-sized football pitch and a stadium with a running track are among the ideas the Tinley Park District is proposing as it considers buying and redeveloping a state-owned property. Tinley Park officials are also keen to acquire.
The Park District released draft plans on Wednesday for the 280-acre site, northwest of Harlem Avenue and 183rd Street, which previously housed the Tinley Park Mental Health Center and the adjacent Howe Development Center.
The Park District is a long way from taking ownership of the property, and no estimate of the possible costs for this ambitious project has yet been made, said Shawn Roby, the district’s executive director.
In addition to serving village residents, the proposed sports complex could host regional youth sports tournaments, drawing visitors to Tinley Park who would stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants, Roby said.
“The ultimate goal here is to generate revenue,” Roby said. “Think about what you’ll get back in sales tax, hotel tax.”
The village of Tinley Park had also considered a large-scale youth sports complex to attract tournaments, noting the potential tax revenue, but plans did not move forward.
Some types of recreational aspects, such as an indoor ice rink, as well as other entertainment options are among the redevelopment plans the village has been considering, according to village manager Pat Carr.
“We’ve been trying to develop this for 10 years,” he said Wednesday.
Although the village does not own the property, it would, if that changed, be able to determine the zoning of the land. The property is zoned for office and light industrial, such as warehousing and distribution.
“It’s not zoned for a park,” Carr said. “We control the zoning there.”
There are also multiple environmental issues with the property, including soil contaminated with mercury and lead, leaking underground storage tanks, asbestos, and black mold. Additionally, there are several buildings on the property, some quite large, which would probably need to be demolished before any redevelopment.
Roby said district officials are aware of the environmental impediments, but “we don’t have clarity on the condition of the site,” when it comes to the worst conditions.
He said he hoped the park district wouldn’t have to bear the costs of the remediation alone.
“We want to work with our partners in the state to clean up the site,” Roby said.
An estimate several years ago by a Tinley Park consultant put the cost of fixing the site’s environmental issues and razing dozens of buildings at $12.4 million, but village officials suspect the cost increased.
The site is in a tax increment funding district, and property tax revenue generated in the district from redevelopment could be used to pay for site preparation costs, such as remediation of the environment.
The state had issued last month, as it does every year, a notice of excess property it is trying to sell, including the property of the mental health center.
The park district and the village have indicated to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which controls the site, that they wish to acquire the property.
Last year, the village agreed to pay $4.5 million for the property, but the deal required approval from the state legislature, which did not materialize.
Roby said the park district hasn’t cited a specific dollar amount it’s willing to pay.
“We’re willing to pay fair market value, but I don’t know if anyone knows what that is,” he said.
He said the Park District expects to learn early next year whether he will be considered a buyer.
Roby said the Park District, if able to purchase the land, would consider sources such as grants and public-private partnerships for its redevelopment plans. He said a bond sale was not ruled out.
“You can never say something is off the table,” he said.
Last month, the Park Board approved two bond sales totaling $2.1 million, with the proceeds used to pay for the acquisition of park land, although it did not say which site owned the park. ‘State.
Roby said Wednesday that while the proceeds from the bond “are not specifically for this project, it could be useful to them.”
According to the park district, the first phase of redevelopment would encompass approximately 90 acres, just west of Harlem Avenue, which would include a playground and sports facilities for people with special needs.
A draft of the plans, which Roby said will likely be revised over time, include six multi-purpose sports fields and five baseball diamonds.
A proposed domed sports complex with a full-size soccer field would be located on the north side of the property near the 80th Avenue Metra station, according to the tentative layout.
A wading pool, concession stands, picnic areas and a pond are also part of the park district’s proposal.
Roby said the project would also create more playing space for Tinley Park’s youth sports organizations, the Bobcats and the Bulldogs.
A stadium with a running track could also be used by village schools for training and athletics events, he said.
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Roby said the draft proposal came after meetings over the last “year and a half or so” with school district officials and youth sports teams about what they would like on the property.
Carr said the village wanted to have income-generating development on the property.
“It’s always been in our plan to have sports facilities there, but through a private developer,” he said on Wednesday.
He said the village had had discussions in the past with the park district about ownership, but noted that nothing could happen, in terms of village plans, until he was site owner.
“We always intended to work with the Park District once we acquired the property,” Carr said.
Roby said the park district has a good relationship with the village and is looking to partner with village officials as plans move forward.
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