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O’Fallon to vote on $20.7 million bond issue for park improvements

The O’Fallon City Council is set to vote on an ordinance that would put an item on the Aug. 2 ballot aimed at helping to fund parks and recreation improvements in the city.

If approved by the voters, the ballot item will allow the city to issue $20,700,000 in general obligation bonds. It also would mean a property tax increase to the tune of 2 cents per $100 assessed valuation. That means a person owning a $100,000 home would see an increase of $3.80 per year.

The improvements would include constructing, furnishing and equipping an expansion to Alligator’s Creek Aquatic Center and a new facility for recreation programs in Civic Park. Funds also would be spent developing O’Day Park by constructing, furnishing and equipping an adventure playground and picnic area, hiking and fitness trails, an outdoor amphitheater and an activity/conference center.

A similar proposition came before O’Fallon voters in 2014 – alongside the first proposal for the new justice center. The parks proposition failed to pass in April 2014, receiving 53.16 percent of votes – only 4 percent short of the 57.14 percent the measure required.

The largest piece of the proposal is the O’Day Park development, according to O’Fallon Communications Director Tom Drabelle. O’Day Park was donated to the city years ago for the sole purpose of being a park, according to Drabelle.

The Alligator’s Creek development partially stems from the high volume of traffic that facility experiences. Currently, Alligator’s Creek has a capacity of around 450 swimmers, and the expansion would double that capacity, according to Drabelle. He said Alligator’s Creek admitted a total of 27,086 swimmers in 2015.

An expansion to Alligator’s Creek also would give the city meeting space in Civic Park once more, where athletic classes could be held. The city lost space in which to hold such classes when Civic Hall closed in 2011.

The council will reconvene on Feb. 25 for a final vote on the ordinance.

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