Belleville

With Pritzker signing $45B capital bill, Belleville moves ahead with splash pad plans

Gov. J.B. Pritzker touts $45 billion worth of capital investment

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker touts the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital bill during a visit to East St. Louis. Bill will improve roads, bridges, infrastructure and be paid by increase in Illinois gas tax by $ 0.19 and cigarette tax by $1,
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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker touts the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital bill during a visit to East St. Louis. Bill will improve roads, bridges, infrastructure and be paid by increase in Illinois gas tax by $ 0.19 and cigarette tax by $1,

Belleville kids haven’t had a municipal pool since 2012 but they may have a new splash pad by next summer, thanks to the state’s new tax and fee increases helping to fund a six-year, $45 billion capital improvement plan.

The city is scheduled to get $300,000 for the splash pad as part of the state’s spending plan.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week signed legislation for the tax and fee increases along with the spending plan. The gas tax doubled from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon on Monday; the cigarette tax increased $1 a pack from $1.98 to $2.98; gaming taxes increased; and next year the vehicle registration fee will increase from $101 to $151 per car.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said a decision has not been made on where to build the splash pad but he said he expects it to be built by next summer in an existing city park that has suitable water lines.

“I think the splash pad is a great way for young children and moms in the hot summer to come … and keep cool and have a little fun,” Eckert said.

Eckert has said has sought partners to help the city pay for construction of a new pool but that hasn’t come to fruition.

The former Belleville pool located off Hecker Street was demolished in 2015.

It’s too early to say how much the splash pad will cost, Eckert said.

Eckert said city staff is talking to officials from other area towns that have built splash pads.

Swansea opened a splash pad in 2009 at Schranz Memorial Park off Huntwood Road. Village Administrator Ben Schloesser said the Swansea splash pad is open this summer.

However, it has had closures in previous seasons.

Last year, the pad had to be shut down after a lightning strike damaged equipment. It also was closed in the 2010 and 2011 seasons because the village had a dispute with a contractor over whether the equipment was safe. That case was settled in 2012.

Schloesser, who was named the village administrator last year and was not with the village when the splash pad was built, said records showed Swansea authorized about $294,000 between 2008 and 2011 for various costs related to the splash pad.

Also, the village received $18,500 in 2012 as part of the settlement with a contractor but it had about $3,000 in legal costs, according to a BND file article.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

Why did we report this story?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a $45 billion capital improvement plan and authorized the tax and fee increases to help pay for the spending. The News-Democrat will post articles showing residents where the $45 billion is being spent, including the $300,000 targeted for a splash pad in Belleville.

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.

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