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O’Fallon park improvements to get vote of the people in August election

 Alligator’s Creek Aquatic Center      	                [City of O’Fallon photo]

Alligator’s Creek Aquatic Center [City of O’Fallon photo]

The O’Fallon City Council has approved an ordinance that will put an item on the Aug. 2 ballot aimed at helping fund parks and recreation improvements in the city.

That ballot item, if approved by voters, will allow the city to issue $20,700,000 in general obligation bonds, which will be used to expand the parks and recreation facilities the city has to offer. Included would be an expansion of the Alligator’s Creek Aquatic Center, nearly doubling its capacity of 450 swimmers. That project would also include construction of a new facility in civic park, which would once more give the city meeting space to hold athletic classes. The city lost space in which to hold such classes when Civic Hall closed in 2011.

However, according to O’Fallon Communications Director Tom Drabelle, the largest piece of the proposed parks project is the development of O’Day Park. The ordinance states that the funds, if approved by the voters, would go toward building an adventure playground, picnic area, hiking and fitness trails, an outdoor amphitheater and an activity/conference center.

Councilmember John Haman [Ward 3] said the O’Day Park development would be considered a “passive park.”

A passive park typically features areas for low-intensity exercises, consisting of trails and picnic areas while preserving the open space and environment of the area. With higher-energy facilities like Alligator’s Creek, T.R. Hughes Ballpark and the Renaud Spirit Center already in place in O’Fallon, Haman said the residents he has heard from “love the idea” of a passive park.

“We see a passive park as a big need in the city,” Haman said.

The issue had come before voters in 2014, and received only 53.16 percent of votes – 4 percent short of the 57.14 percent the measure required. At that time, it was on the ballot alongside the proposed Justice Center, which returned last year on its own and passed with 60 percent of votes.

“I think when we had the previous bond issue that was on the ballot, it included the parks and the justice center, and I think they hurt each other,” Councilmember Rick Battelle [Ward 3] said. “Voters, I think my constituents particularly, would like to see those issues more singular, and make the determination on what they want to support or not.”

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