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Sycamore Park District breaks ground on recreation campus

SYCAMORE – Sycamore Park District leaders moved the first piles of dirt Tuesday on their $13 million series of projects to expand and improve the district’s recreational spaces.

About 30 people including park and city officials, Leaf a Legacy contributors and community members were in attendance at the site of the 25-acre recreation campus across from the Sports Complex on Airport Road.

“We already have a lot of fun activity across the road,” Park District Executive Director Dan Gibble said. “We think this is going to become the focal point for recreation in Sycamore and for a lot of people perhaps not from Sycamore.”

Over the next 10 to 12 months, construction will begin on a 22,400-square-foot community center, the Brian Bemis Family Dog Park, a splash pad designed by Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital Sled Hill, and an outdoor amphitheater and patio.

The features are part of the district’s Action 2020 plans, for which the Sycamore Park Board approved the concept in December 2013.

Voters in November 2014 approved a property-tax rate increase referendum to carry out the project with $9 million in property taxes. The rest of the funds are set to come from $3 million in grants and $1 million from the Leaf a Legacy campaign.

Park board Vice President Michelle Schulz said the district is about $100,000 away from its fundraising goal for Leaf a Legacy, and board members are hoping to reach $1 million in March.

“The $200, the $50, the $25, the $10 donations are what makes this possible,” she said. “This community cares unlike any other community you’d ever find, and we’re so grateful for all of those donations.”

Schulz said Ringland-Johnson Construction would set up a webcam on site so that people can view the construction on the district’s website.

Gibble said the community center is scheduled to be complete and open to the public in about a year, with the splash pad being ready in summer 2018. He said the dog park and sled hill would take an additional year, because the turf on both features will need to settle.

Brent Johnson, president and CEO of Ringland-Johnson Construction, said the company, based in Cherry Valley, has taken on many local projects, with this one expected to create an average of 50 construction jobs.

Action 2020 also includes plans for two biking trail connections, a soccer complex, six baseball fields and a new irrigation system at the Sycamore Park District Golf Club.

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(Photo credit: Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Media)