by: Diane Benjamin
On Monday a presentation will be made to the Bloomington City Council pertaining to the proposed Community Center and Soccer Complex. The group behind the project wants 1/4% Sales Tax for 8 years which they say will completely pay for both projects. The group is called Citizens Advocating for Area Youth (CAAY). The board consists of 29 people, including former Bloomington Mayor candidate John Hansen.
Using public money for private purposes is a HUGE issue. The presentation says 3000 kids play soccer locally. They plan to create a soccer utopia for tournaments bringing in teams from miles away, the “if we build it, they will come” philosophy. They are asking government to create economic activity – at your expense. Feel free to send the Bloomington Mayor and Aldermen your thoughts: [email protected]
The validity of that argument isn’t the point of this post however. You need to know who stands to gain since it will be at your expense if both Bloomington and Normal City Councils pass the tax increase.
CAAY put together a presentation complete with professional design plans for both locations and close to 100 letters of support from citizens, businesses, schools, unions, and others. The total project cost is $32,000,000. The south-side Community Center is $16,575,000, the Soccer Complex is $14,925,000. It also includes upgrades to the Boys and Girls Club and Link Center – $500,000. They have already secured financing with Busey Bank, all they need is the money to pay it – your tax dollars.
The Community Soccer Center would be owned by owned and maintained by the Town of Normal. The Community Center would be owned by the City of Bloomington. The YMCA would lease the building for a “nominal fee” and allow other area youth groups to use the facilities. The proposal is called “Quality of Life” throughout the book, in the past that has sold well. Citizens now know “Quality of Life” projects are threats to their wallet, think Coliseum, BCPA, 3 golf courses, zoo, etc etc etc.
The Federal Aviation Administration has told the airport they can no longer allow the soccer complex built on airport property to exist after 2017. Suddenly it is a threat to Homeland Security, but it can wait a couple more years to move. Evidently the local Senators and Representatives in Washington can not change the FAA’s mind, if they tried, the book doesn’t elaborate. Prairie City Soccer has spent a lot of money planting trees and creating fields, but using the complex mostly on weekends for about 12 weeks a year is now a security threat. Maybe they should start a petition on Change.org before wanting tax money.
So how did Prairie City Soccer go from playing soccer on the far east side to proposing fields on the far west side?
It helps to know who owns the land now where they propose to build:
The presentation does not include the number of acres to be purchased OR the purchase price. Wirtz Beverage was considering property just south of the proposed complex with 5 years of tax abatement, they choose Lexington instead. Was the owner asking too much per acre? Both properties are owned by the same guy – Dave Stark.
It is difficult to tell from the presentation exactly what property pin numbers are in the proposal, but I can get close. The land is bordered by Wylie Drive, Hovey, and College. Looking at these properties on the McLean County Recorder of Deeds site, the current owner is Interchange City West LLC. Who is that?
We don’t know how many acres are involved or what the price per acres is. I do know David Stark has loans on this property and some of the surrounding property totaling almost $12,000,000.
The Wirtz Beverage sale fell through. Is this sale a Stark bailout at your expense? If this proposal isn’t outright rejected by the Bloomington Council members, they should at least get more information.
The property is located inside an Enterprise zone. You can see the entire zone here:
The proposed complex is just west of Interstate 55. Hovey is visible in the center of the picture, the complex would be on both sides.
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