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Group recommends Meadows Park for community center

DIXON – Meadows Park was deemed the best place to put a future community center, according to a recommendation released Friday.

The #DixonStrong Leadership Team, a group that has worked for months to generate recommendations on a community center project for the Dixon Park District, chose Meadows Park over other possible locations including private land in the Interstate 88 corridor, the Brinton Avenue property owned by the School District, and land along the riverfront where Kitzman’s Lumber is.

“The primary purpose of this center is to serve our children first; this location ties in perfectly to other park district services and is easily accessible for children to walk to or ride their bikes,” Park District Executive Director Duane Long said.

Meadows Park has the Wooden Wonderland playground, Water Wonderland splash pad, soccer fields and field house, the roller hockey rink, and football field and facilities.

“There is an abundance of synergies with existing amenities that would be enhanced by a community center acting as a centralized community hub,” according to the recommendation.

The team wanted a space with at least 40 acres to be able to house a facility, outdoor fields and parking.

The downsides of the location include increased traffic, its being on a far side of town and area vandalism, but traffic could be eased on Washington Avenue by building a road from Brinton Avenue to the Meadows on Park District property, according to the recommendation.

The next steps will be hiring an engineering firm and doing a cost analysis.

The leadership team conducted two community surveys gauging residents’ interest in a center, and results are being combined with needs assessments from the Park District, School District and Dixon Family YMCA to decide what should be included.

Once there’s a preliminary design and cost estimate, members will work to create a funding plan, determine if the center will need to be built in phases, and look into annual projected revenues and maintenance costs.

One of the ways revenue could be generated for the project would be to expand the Park District taxing boundaries, which has been a goal for many years.

To increase its tax base, those in the district and those who would be annexed in would need to pass a referendum. The district last tried to expand in 2000 by bringing in Dixon Township, but out-of-district voters shut the effort down, 860 to 254.

In November 2017, the Park Board approved a resolution to develop a long range district plan that includes putting a referendum on the ballot in 2020 to expand the boundaries.

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