Downtown Plans Continue to Move Along
The village board hired Hitchcock Design Group Wednesday to help design the downtown area. Also, trustees voted to redevelop Village Park and adopted this year's tax levy.
Plans continue to progress on Romeoville’s new downtown initiatives, with the village board Wednesday signing off on a contract with Hitchcock Design Group to help develop the look and feel of the downtown center.
Hitchcock will design the public spaces for the new downtown that will focus on the new Athletic and Event Center, an $8 million project that will house indoor soccer, basketball and volleyball along with multipurpose rooms for community events.
In addition to the new Athletic and Event Center, the village will demolish the Spartans’ Square shopping center and build a new storm water management facility, public off-street parking, new on-street parking and create streetscape improvements.
According to village documents, Hitchcock Design will work to finalize the on- and off-street parking plan, design storm water facilities and irrigation, landscaping and other public space improvements, and help create a brand and slogan that will distinguish the downtown area.
When complete, the new public improvements are going to provide for an engaging environment for visitors to gather, socialize and participate in programmed activities, according to Hitchcock Design’s proposal.
Village Manager Steve Gulden said the village wants people to want to turn into the new downtown as they travel down Route 53.
The price of the service is not to exceed $99,800 plus reimbursable expenses such as printing and mileage.
The contract with Hitchcock Design Group is the latest is a series of initiatives to promote and develop the downtown area.
The village board in recent months has voted to hire Dewberry Architects Inc. to design the new Athletic and Event Center and Harbour Contractors Inc. to serve as the construction manager. The board has also voted to demolish the Spartans’ Square mall and hired Fred Barofsky Co., which specializes in real estate marketing and operating sports and event centers, to help market the site and recruit businesses – with an emphasis on a grocery store – to the area.
The concept plan for the downtown redevelopment initiative, which has been in planning stages for about 10 years, also includes a 20,000-square-foot grocery store and three other outlots of about 5,000 square feet each. Nearby is the recently remodeled White Oak Public Library.
In other news, the village board approved hiring George’s Landscaping Inc. to renovate Village Park for about $311,300.
The playground was installed in 1998 and is ending its usefulness, said Kelly Rajzer, the village’s director of parks and recreation. Equipment is rusty and replacement parts are obsolete, she said.
Most playgrounds last for 12 to 15 years before safety is compromised and they need to be replaced, village officials said.
Village Park is a popular site for the summer day camp programs and is located near several baseball diamonds, making it well-used in the community.
A new playground with handicapped-accessible swings, new protective ground surfacing, benches, picnic tables and additional landscaping will be among the features of the redeveloped park.
Finally, the village board adopted its annual tax levy for the fiscal year, which runs from May 1 to April 30, 2013.
The village is requesting nearly $14 million in its total property tax levy, which represents an 8.9 percent increase over the previous year.
The actual levy — or the amount of taxes collected by the village from residential, industrial and commercial property owners to pay its operating costs for the coming year — is likely to not equal as much when final information from Will County comes in April.
Governments typically levy for or request more taxes than they expect to receive in order to get their full share of taxes, capture any new growth and not lose any potential revenue.
The village has actually collected $12.9 million in both 2010 and 2011, and expects to again collect $12.9 million in property taxes this year, finance director Kirk Openchowski said.