Park district to issue bonds to build new multi-use court

This is a pickleball court combined with a tennis court. The multi-use court to be built at Wabash Park, however, will also be set up for volleyball.

RANTOUL — Rantoul Park Board will issue $120,000 in bonds to be repaid over four years to build a new multi-use court at Wabash Park.

The court will be used for tennis, pickleball and volleyball.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $150,000.

Rantoul City Schools has pledged $30,000, and Rotary International has pledged $2,520 each at the local and district levels for the project.  

Board President Gary Hardin said earlier the board would likely go with a multi-use court because it can be used for more than one sport and it will have a longer life.

The park district has had to resurface the Wabash Park tennis courts every few years. The multi-purpose court is expected to last many times longer than a conventional tennis court because it would be made of longer-lasting material.

District Secretary Bill Scott estimated the bonds would cost the owner of a$100,000 home about $15 a year in real estate taxes.

Scott said it had been suggested the board borrow the money from a bank rather than issue bonds.

“Part of the problem is that in presenting this borrowing option to a bank, the park board must provide them with evidence as to the source of funds for repayment. The loan must, in any event, be repaid within two years. If we can’t get tax revenues to pay the bonds, where is the money going to come from?” Scott said of the cash-strapped park district.

He said selling land the district owns next to Brookhill Golf Course is the most likely such option. Yet, it would not be a guaranteed source of repayment, because the sale would first have to be approved by a voter referendum, and if the board gets the go-ahead, an auction would have to be condeucted. There is no assurance the successful bidder would bid enough to warrant the sale.

One drawback of issuing bonds is the cost. The typical legal fees would be between $1,500-$2,000, Scott said.

“On balance, I do not see that the benefit of borrowing the funds and hoping for a successful sale outweighs the potential problems,” Scott wrote in a memo to the park board.

He said if the park board decides the property adjacent to Brookhill should be sold to provide for additional capital projects, “then the board should, by all means, proceed and will have those funds available for such projects in the future.”

He said he agrees the park board should not sell the property “simply to supplement ongoing operating expenses.”

Construction of the multi-use court is expected to begin in the latter part of June.

Rantoul Township High School stopped fielding a tennis team, in part, because of the condition of the Wabash Park courts. Principal Todd Wilson said school officials were concerned about the safety of the courts.

A multi-use court would allow use by nearby Eater Junior High School students for any of the three sports for which the court would be set up.

Pickleball has grown in popularity in recent years. It offers a shorter court than tennis. Four pickleball courts can be set up on one tennis court and is attractive to older users because it requires little running.