D-428 approves sale of Kiwanis Park


Northern Star File Photo

Bessie Chronopoulos expresses her appreciation for the acquisition of new park land in DeKalb in 2013.

By Ali Combs

The District 428 Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the sale of Kiwanis Park, 391 Fairview Dr., to the DeKalb Park District for $625,000 at Tuesday night’s meeting.

DeKalb Park District Board members approved the school’s offer unanimously at last week’s board meeting. The School District and the Park District are already in an intergovernmental agreement that allows the Park District the use of the 41-acre park to house 14 soccer fields, which are generally used by the local American Youth Soccer Organization league. With the school board’s approval, the sale will go forward, allowing the Park District to continue offering this service to the community. The park was originally bought in 2002 by the district for $1.4 million.

Cindy Capek, executive director of the DeKalb Park District, said it was important the school district didn’t sell the property to a private developer.

“The school board had the option to sell to a private developer and we would no longer have use of the property,” Capek said.

Tom Matya, Board of Education president, said there are several options for how the revenue from the park will be spent, but the board is still unsure of exactly how those funds will be allocated.

“Obviously, with a $2.4 million deficit, there are several opportunities to put the money to use, but with a new board coming in, that will be discussed with the whole board,” Matya said. “Whether or not it’s used immediately is yet to be determined.”

The property was originally purchased by the school district in hopes of building a new high school there. Since the school was built at another site, there are no current plans for the property. The sale makes sense, said Tracy Williams, Board of Education vice president. She said the future of the property should have been a part of a referendum but was overlooked.

“It’s an asset that was no longer being utilized by the school district for a purpose,” Williams said. “The community got tons of good use out of it, and it was certainly favorable for the community to keep it as a park, but it should then be owned by the park district instead of the school.”

Williams said the vote went through with no problems, as expected.

Matya said it is in the community’s best interest for the Park District to own the property.

“We’ve had great discussion and cooperation with the Park District, and we think that it’s a good opportunity for them,” Matya said. “It’s moving land the district had no intention to use, and most of all it’ll be good for the community.”

The board also voted down a virtual charter school looking to become part of the district.

“It was a money grab, a scam,” Williams said. “They came to us with a proposal, and they’ve already been voted down by 17 other districts. There’s no credibility to it…. They’re having issues all over the country.”