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Commission OKs sports complex extension

Council to vote on request May 6

STERLING – The Plan Commission is recommending the city give businessman Larry Ybarra a little more time to bring his longtime dream of a sports complex off Lynn Boulevard to fruition.

Commissioners voted Thursday to recommend Ybarra’s special-use permit be extended 6 months, until Jan. 1, 2014, Chairman John Stauter said Friday.

The City Council will vote on whether to grant Ybarra’s request.

Ybarra, who first publicly pitched the idea of the complex in March 2008, was to break ground April 17.

He envisions a multimillion-dollar facility that would include a football field surrounded by an eight-lane track, soccer fields, and a 4,500-seat stadium, and later, a baseball complex at the northeast corner of Oak Grove Avenue and West 23rd Street, off West Lynn Boulevard.

Friday, Ybarra said he is still working on securing funding for the $6 million project. Once he raises $2 million, he plans to apply for low-interest loans through the USDA’s rural development program in Illinois, which would cover the rest of the cost, he said.

He has not raised any money as yet.

“We’ve had a couple people that are interested and willing to provide all the money for developing the program,” Ybarra said. “They wanted a great deal in return. They wanted 10 percent interest to earn on money.”

Ybarra said the goal of the complex is to attract people. “What we want to accomplish here is to bring people to the area to patronize our retail stores, our restaurants, our hotels,” he said. “That will benefit businesses in this area in so many ways.”

The project already has been approved by the Plan Commission.

“Economic issues have affected the area and probably affected him, too,” City Building and Zoning Superintendent Amanda Schmidt said. “He wasn’t asking for a lot ... asking for a limited time frame. They didn’t see an issue with that.”

Ybarra must demonstrate specific plans for the project by Jan. 1, she said. Having a set of plans in hand and discussing the complex with Ybarra’s architect starts the construction process, she said.

The council is set to vote on the extension at its May 6 meeting, Schmidt said.

Two vacancies on Plan Commission

STERLING – The city's Plan Commission elected a new chairman and vice chairman Thursday night.

Commission member Eric Larson replaces Chairman John Stauter, who was elected alderman at large for the Sterling City Council on April 9.

Commissioner Steve Munson was elected the panel's vice chairman.

That leaves two vacancies. Anyone interested is serving should call City Building and Zoning Superintendent Amanda Schmidt at 815-632-6624.

Mayor Skip Lee will make the recommendation to the council, which will vote on the replacements.


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