Lan-Oak Park District again goes for 10-cent tax rate hike

2013-03-11T19:45:00Z 2013-03-11T23:08:27Z Lan-Oak Park District again goes for 10-cent tax rate hikeJeanette Lach (219) 933-3267 jeanette.lach@nwi.com nwitimes.com

LANSING | The Lan-Oak Park District is once again seeking a 10-cent increase in its tax rate that would generate $450,000 for capital improvements.

If approved, the funds would go to the renovation of Bock Park, a new soccer field, more shelters and new playground equipment, park district officials said during a visit to The Times on Monday.

For a home valued at $116,000, that rate increase would amount to an extra $38 a year in taxes paid to the Lan-Oak Park District, which in recent years has attempted three times to increase its tax rate with no success.

Without the rate increase, park district officials said they would be left with no choice but to remove shelters at Lan-Oak and Erfert parks and antiquated playground equipment throughout the village.

"Instead of parks, you'll have just a bunch of open spaces ... where (we're) just cutting grass," said Dan Podgorski, a former village president who now is part of a citizens committee calling itself PARK, People Advocating Recreation for Kids, that is lobbying residents to approve the April 9 referendum.

Established in 1949, the park district has $125,000 annually available for capital improvements for its 24 parks and 188 acres of land. Park district officials say that amount is not enough when playground equipment can cost $50,000.

While previous referendum attempts have failed by wide margins, park district officials are hoping their lobbying efforts, community outreach and information will sway public opinion in their favor this time.

Residents are invited to a park district board meeting at 7 p.m. March 18 at the Eisenhower Fitness Center, 2550 178th St., to learn more about the referendum.

Referendum approval would most notably allow for the renovation of Bock Park into a soccer/football field, two other open areas for soccer and a half basketball court. Interest in soccer has exploded in recent years, and there is a shortage of fields for Little League, softball and soccer practice, officials said.

Park district officials say they have the support of civic organizations that sponsor local sports teams.

Quality schools and parks add to a home's value and the quality of life in a community, Podgorski said. When people are choosing a community to move to, "they usually stop and pay attention to the parks," he said.

Lansing Elementary District 158 recently won a referendum that allowed the district to renovate several of its schools, he said. This tax hike would add to the quality of life in Lansing, too, he said.

"Then we'll have a community that has really been substantially renovated," Podgorski said.

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