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Former Anetsberger Property Eyed For New Community Center

Survey polled residents about desire for community center and potential location at former Anetsberger site.

One question remains after the park district .

What will replace ? 

Based on the results of , it appears that a significant number of Northbrook residents would support the construction of a new community center at the site.

“This has been and always will be a community-driven process,” said executive director Rick Hanetho. 

This winter, the park district hired consultant Leisure Vision, which sent out questionnaires to a random sampling of 3,000 Northbrook households between January and February. Leisure Vision has conducted surveys for several park districts around the North Shore and conducted the ’s extensive community survey in 2009. The 2012 survey cost $14,800, according to Ann Ziolkowski, director of marketing and communications for the park district.

Mailed on Jan. 9, the survey asked residents how often they visited local parks, whether they knew that the park district had acquired the former Anetsberger site and whether they would use a community center located there. It also asked whether residents would support a referendum to build and operate a community center, renovate the and conduct improvements to , along with other questions.

Among the survey’s 678 respondents, 42 percent said they were very supportive of developing a community center at the former Anetsberger site, while 21 percent said they were somewhat supportive of the proposal. All told, 74 percent said they would use such a center at least once a month. 

“Our survey results validate that our adult population wants space,” said Hanetho, who noted an increase demand for services targeted at seniors as the community ages. “Now how do we make that happen?”

Based on the survey, the top four features residents would support at a community center include a fitness area; aerobics, fitness and dance studio; lap pool for exercise; and an elevated walking and jogging track. 

Hanetho said he had visited indoor tracks in Highland Park and Glenview in the middle of the day on a weekday and observed that they were filled with people. According to the survey, a walking and jogging track was the No. 1 choice of the greatest number of people. 

“That’s what people are screaming for,” Hanetho said. 

The survey also gauged community interest in supporting the projects via tax revenues or user fees. Hanetho said that the park district does not have enough funds in reserve to pay for a new community center, renovations at Sportsman’s and at the Leisure Center. The Park District's 2011-12 budget called for $22.2 million in expenditures and $20.8 million in revenue, with the difference being made up by reserves. Hanetho estimated that the district had roughly $9 million in reserves before the $2.1 million Anetsberger purchase. 

“For the most part, typical community centers are not centers that return a net surplus,” he added. 

According to the survey, 36 percent of respondents would vote in favor of a referendum to build and operate a community center and to renovate the leisure center, while 22 percent might vote in favor, 21 percent were not sure and 21 percent would vote against such a measure.

If funding for renovations to Sportsman’s Country Club were included in a referendum, 49 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to vote in favor of the property tax increase, while 17 percent said they would be more likely, 22 percent said they would be equally likely and 13 percent were not sure.

“It really helps set the foundation of what the community priorities are moving forward,” Hanetho said. 

The park district will continue gathering community input on the former Anetsberger property and future park district projects through meetings this spring with local stakeholders such as the village and the North Suburban YMCA. It will also hold three public forums at the Leisure Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 7 and 8 and from 2 to 4 p.m. March 13. Residents are asked to reserve a spot in the forum in advance online or by calling the park district at 847-897-6105. 

Hanetho said demolition of the former Anetsberger site had yet to be scheduled, but the park district’s board of directors did approve a contract for the demolition on Thursday.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include a preferred phone number and a specific figure for the survey's cost.

Mary February 29, 2012 at 08:14 PM
No to a large Community Center-we already have one, it's called the YMCA. How about a dog park??
L February 29, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Wow WHO would want to support a facility like this through taxes when we have several great ones in the area? (Five Seasons, the Y, JCC, and more). What a waste ... wont pass.
c February 29, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I vote for dog park and no to increased taxes for a fitness facility that we already have.
IN THE KNOW March 01, 2012 at 12:17 PM
I wonder how much the other facilities such as 5Seasons, LA Fitness and others pay in property taxes???? And to think their (5Seasons, LA, etc..) taxes will go to build competition for those facilities. We must find a better use for that site, one that serves the entire village and one that fills a current void; not add more troubles for current businesses that must be struggling in the recession. ITK
Jeff March 01, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I want to know why the Northbrook Park District spends 22 million dollars per year, while it takes in 20 million. I want to know why it has $9 million dollars in reserve, so it can just throw around $2.5 million to buy a property with no plan. While we struggle to pay property taxes of $10,000+. When bureaucrats have money, and a vested interest in growing their own function/jobs/importance, they will spend $ 14,000 on a survey with only 678 respondents and draw conclusions and spin the results to further their agenda. And add another referendum (More taxes)? The Greenbriar gym has all but erased the open outdoor space at the school, except for the 2 retention ponds it made necessary!! And it has your new basketball courts. And you can walk in there too if you want. We need to put a lid on the Northbrook Park District now.
KPM March 01, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Another Taxpayer funded center to compete with institutions like the YMCA that have served the community for decades is just wrong. All it will do is weaken current institutions/businesses and in the end (IMHO) Northbrook will end up with an underutilized asset for which we all paid. I also bristle at the interpretation of the survey results which seem to be seeking an predetermined answer ("people want us build a community center!") rather than providing options upon which residents and taxpayers can vote. Mr. Billig rightly points this out in his comments above which articulate that you can skew a survey result to get the answer you want. Dog Park - lower burden to taxpayers struggling to escape recession - faster time to value for the community - fosters residents communing in open space outdoors - and not competitive with long time town supporters and tax paying businesses. Last point, the Y, their Board and their supporters have busted their tails to raise money to revamp and modernize their facilities to be world class - years of work to accomplish this task in tough economic times - it would be a thumb in their eye to raise taxes to compete with them, period.
Jeff March 01, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I don't hear anyone "screaming for" anything, Mr. Hanetho. Sounds like a very bad spin job.
Heywood Jablome March 01, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I never saw a survey. It sounds as if there were several leading questions. Did the survey offer other suggestions as to what we would like to spend our taxes on? I read the initial cost, but what about the ongoing expenses associated with such a facility. It is never the price of something, but the upkeep that gets many businesses in trouble. Then you have to look at the competition. On one hand, the YMCA fills much of the need that the community has for a fitness facility. On the other, Five Seasons provides a higher-end alternative. They cannot all coexist. Either the YMCA and Five Seasons will keep many of their members which will hurt the revenue of this new project or the new project will hurt these two businesses by stealing all of their members. If one of these businesses close, how will be make up those taxes? Will that be another increase? Give us what we need, not what you think we need. Our community does not need to win any awards for the nicest community center at the expense of our hard earned tax dollars.
Northsider March 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Kati: You state that we should not look at this as "not necessarily just as competition to other fitness facilities"; my guess is that you do not work for one of those facilities. Do you really feel it is fair for a facility not to pay rent, not to pay for remodling and not to service their own debt? Rec Centers lose money every year (known fact, just look up Pros Consulting) who will cover the shortfall in operating (we the residents will). To put this facility between the Y and FS is egregious; if we the residents want it so bad then we should look for a different location (not a location that will simply rob members from our friends at the Y and FS). I own a business in Northbrook and I am not for this center, I do not like dogs and the mess they leave hence I vote for a dog park so those animals can do thier business their.
JLB March 01, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Well put, Cathie!
JLB March 01, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Advocates of saving money and supporting current exercise/community facilities, check out the NORTHBROOK DOG PARK web site: http://www.northbrookdogpark.com
William Holohan March 01, 2012 at 10:44 PM
What a great opportunity for our park district and community...., We get to tear down a factory and create more open space! Now THAT would be award winning! I'm for grass, trees, dogs, and the Y!
Jeff March 01, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Sell site. With property taxes this high, I can't afford it. That site should be business or residential and be a net relief to our tax burden, not an increase!!
WEB March 02, 2012 at 02:17 AM
It's easy to ask people if they want new things when misrepresenting the costs. The survey asked if respondents would be willing to pay between $3 and $9 per month "to develop and operate a Community Center and renovate the existing Leisure Center." Do the math: $9/month x 12 months x 13,000 households = $1.4 million/year of income. This might pay for leisure center renovations, but it won't fund the minimum $20 million it would take to build a Community Center and the minimum of $2 million/year to operate it. Don't be fooled: it costs $110/month for a family of four at the Glen Park Center. It costs $85/month at the Y (which we already have).
Mary March 02, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Northbrook Residents also need to understand that the building of Glenview's Park Center was subsidized by Northshore University Healthsystems ( formerly ENH ) who run a facility that includes physician treatment rooms and offices, and a large Physical Medicine and Integrative Medicine Department. Lots of cash people! Park Center may look like nirvana to Northbrook Residents but they have their fair share of problems with residents complaining almost constantly about a myriad of issues-especially the lack of parking/overcrowding on the indoor track /cardio room, etc. I wonder why in 2009 the Park District did not bring the prospect of partnering with the YMCA "to the public" like they are now with their sham survey? What a joke!! The YMCA has been working their bums off to raise the private funds to renovate their facilities. What could have been.......
Mary March 02, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Maybe The Park District should have partnered with the Y in 2009....we would have a center better than what Glenview has....
Jennifer Fisher (Editor) March 02, 2012 at 04:57 PM
It's great to see so much discussion on this article. Please check out our follow-up: "YMCA Proposes Partnership With Park District, Not Community Center" at http://patch.com/A-rqzC
laurie March 03, 2012 at 04:55 PM
:-( Open Space! It's so rare around here and who wants the commercial property on top of kids playing
laurie March 03, 2012 at 04:56 PM
That is if you choose to join. Not every taxpayer.
laurie March 03, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I do think we need a community center beyond the pathetic one on Walters; I LOVE the idea of partnering with the Y; they have been so good to our community, the location is convenient, it would be a financially more viable initiative. And the Anetsberger property could be more open space (so RARE in Northbrook) including a dog park. The perfect solution. When my daughter was 6 year old, she asked me, "Why do they think that any place there is land, they have to build something on it?"
Marlo Leaman March 03, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I hope the Park District is reading all these comments, but I think the one way to really get these comments heard is to attend a public forum on March 7 or 8 at 6:30pm or March 13th at 2pm. Sign up at nbparks.org. They are held at the Leisure Center. Come out to voice your opinion!
concerned northbrook resident March 04, 2012 at 05:34 PM
The YMCA proposal is that the Park District invest 4.5 million dollars of tax payer money for a 15,000 sq foot addition to the YMCA, that the Y would run and the Y may give a discount to Northbrook Park District residents. Who really thinks this is a good use of tax payer money?
JH March 04, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Why is it wise to even consider duplicating excellent facilities that Northbrook presently has available? It just doesn’t seem sensible to use that new location in such a manner. Others have suggested establishing a dog park. This animal-friendly choice would not only add to existing Northbrook venues, but seems a more appropriate design for the property than a community center. jh
Howard Schultz March 05, 2012 at 12:27 AM
As CEO of the Y, I would like to clarify the Y’s position and correct an inaccuracy in a previous posting. For full clarification, I must reply in two successive comments because of limits on size here: First of all, let me state the Y does not believe our proposal to partner is an “all or nothing” proposition for the Park District, and we have not unveiled it in order to make a “pitch” for community dollars to be spent on the Y. Nor are we in any way are trying to be adversarial with the Park District, with whom we have great respect. We do believe however, that there is already ample capacity existing in the private and non-profit sectors for people who are looking for exercise and fitness options without needing to build tax supported facilities of this kind. The Y has additional capacity to service more members (and even more with our new renovations currently underway) and we know Five Seasons does as well, and other facilities in town presumably have additional capacity as well. As for the the Y’s proposal to the Park District to invest $3M-$4M (not $4.5M as stated above) from existing capital reserves (as opposed to raising new taxes) to add 15,000 SF for additional health, fitness & group exercise space to our already existing 75,000 SF facility, this was made in response to the Park District’s perception of a need for more indoor space of this type based upon their interpretation of the results of their 2009 and 2012 survey results.
Howard Schultz March 05, 2012 at 12:29 AM
YMCA Clarification continued: It is our contention that IF the Park District believes it is important to develop additional space on behalf of the community, THEN we believe our proposal is a more cost effective means of doing so. It was only when the Park District announced "strong support for a community center based upon survey results", that we felt it was important that the community be educated about other options available before events start moving too quickly to be changed, particularly with community hearings coming up so quickly within the next two weeks. Our proposal includes three very important components: 1. The Y would assume all responsibility for operating expenses on the additional space including program, overhead and staffing, saving the Park District from any extra recurring costs to their operating budget, and additionally would create a formula to provide the Park District with a net revenue stream after expenses 2.Northbrook residents would indeed receive a discount under this scenario 3.An investment in 15,000 SF of additional space will actually produce a partnership for 90,000 SF for all who participate because the ENTIRE Y is available for the community to participate in, and we would welcome an active partnership with the Park District on many levels The Y is dedicated to building a stronger community and our goal is to work towards that Rotary code of the greater good.We look forward to working together with all who wish to join us.
Kyle Andrews March 06, 2012 at 11:43 PM
People, do not coast on this. Email a link to this page to every resident that you know, along with this link to sign up to attend the meetings to be held: http://fcweb.nbparks.org/community/default.aspx Even using the most optimistic Park District math, the total number of residents that responded to the survey was 2% of the total population, of which 42% said they would be "very supportive" of the creation of a community center, which is LESS THAN 1% OF THE POPULATION OF THIS TOWN. That is neither "strong support" nor "a scream". Show up and be heard, and bring your neighbors.
Jack Billig March 07, 2012 at 08:08 PM
If NPD follows their 2012 survey, the Community Center would need to be funded primarily by User Fees (see 2012 Survey Results. Charts and Graphs p6, http://www.nbparks.org/survey/survey-results.htm for more details). This is what Ballys, 5 Seasons and other fitness centers already do. The survey implies a household can have access to indoor fitness facilities for a mere $9/mth. If they can renovate the Leisure Center AND build a Community Center AND and manage it for $9/mth, sign me up!! It will cost and order of magnitude more. No taxes. Leave Techny Prairie Park and Fields as fields, parks and prairies.
JLB March 08, 2012 at 03:43 AM
‎"You are invited! Northbrook residents can attend a Community Forum to discuss the results of the recent Community Survey about recreation services." --NB Park Dist **Really?** A friend of mine just came back from tonight's forum and said that the first thing the the director said was, "We are NOT here to discuss a dog park!" Citizens were told that this wasn't the time for them to voice their opinions (like alternatives to a new community center) or concerns (like how is $9/month possibly going to pay for a new community center AND renovations of the leisure center)? People were put into groups and asked questions, like "What would you LIKE to have at a community center?" (Didn't they already ask that on the survey)? My friend went there to gather more information and left with nothing. So much for gathering new input from the community.
Donald Wenzel March 08, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I was at the "Community Forum" last night and guess what? The Park District was absent during the "discussion". The NBPD Executive Director gave a power point presentation, took 1 question then left. During the time that residents made their comments there were no park district people in the room instead there were hired "facilitators" that were not from the community. They led the discussion and took notes. I was offended that no members of the park district leadership or board attended the community input portion of this forum, not very community like.
Sal Manso March 08, 2012 at 10:17 PM
We presently have plenty of facilities for Northbrook residents to work out and play sports and Northbrook is not growing the only thing that's growing is our taxes and none of us need more of that this survey doesn't even address the cost and how it would paid by the pay 5 seasons pays about $ 800 K in R E taxes and we all should say thank you and forget building anything else on top of that the Y is spending about $ 2 millinon on some upgrades by the way without costing any tax dollars,my answer to the survey is forgetaboutit

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