A recreation complex that Fairview Heights officials hope will be a gathering spot for all in the city soon will have a home.
On Tuesday night, the Fairview Heights City Council is expected to vote in favor of entering into an agreement to buy land on the city’s west side that will house a 55,000-square-foot rec center. Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky said the city has arranged to buy a piece of land located at 9950 Bunkum Road from Grant School District 110. The city is buying the land for $650,000, and Grant students will have access to a track and soccer field that will be built on the 34-acre piece of land.
“We’re really excited about it,” Kupsky said. “We don’t have a town square and there is no downtown. I look at this as a place that people can come together and collaborate. We want it to be a place where all generations can meet and enjoy great activities. We’re designing it to meet the needs of all ages.”
Having the city council sign off on the purchase of land will be the first step in a project that Kupsky sees being finished in time for the city’s 50th anniversary in 2019. The project is expected to cost $17 million and will be funded through the city’s food and beverage tax. Kupsky said there will be no added tax burden on Fairview Heights residents.
The center will be built at the former home of Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church and School. Grant bought the property several years ago. Kupsky said the school district no longer has plans for the property and agreed to sell it to the city. Kupsky said the location was perfect for several reasons. The center should easily been seen from Interstate 64 and there is already infrastructure at the site, including utilities.
“It’s a clean site,” he said. “There’s only one small building on it. It’s a flat site that is near shovel-ready.”
Kupsky hopes to have the land purchased by the end of the year. He said it will take approximately six months for the design company the city is working with — Sports Facility Advisory of Clearwater, Fla. — to design the center. Earlier this year, the city announced plans to build the center. Kupsky said it will include a multi-lane pool and splash pad, a gym and a fitness center. Kupsky hopes to begin work on the project in late summer or early fall in 2017. He said construction would take approximately 18 months, meaning it would open in early 2019, which would coincide with the city’s 50th anniversary celebration.
This is just the first phase of the project, Kupsky said. He said the site is big enough to allow for future expansion, which could possibly include an ice rink.
“We have a citizens advisory board that has been talking with people throughout the community,” Kupsky said. “We want to put as much into the center as we can while still being fiscally responsible.”