A newly-formed citizens group – itsanobrainerd.com -- opposed to the upcoming $11.5 million Brainerd referendum is proposing development of what it says is an “affordable, fiscally responsible and common sense” alternative.
The referendum would enable the Village to issue $11.5 million bonds to rebuild the former Libertyville High School building at the corner of Park and Brainerd in Libertyville. The total debt of the bonds over ten years exceeds $14,000,000 – all to be repaid through a 24% tax rate increase in Village property taxes.
Presented on the group’s website, www.itsaNObrainerd.com, the proposal calls for the construction of Brainerd Place Plaza, a park setting dedicated to showcasing the history of the Brainerd building. The Plaza, consistent with the idea of a gazebo as shown on concept drawings of the post-demolition site prepared for District 128, could occupy a portion of the five-acre Brainerd site at Brainerd and Route 176 in Libertyville.
“We’re pleased that our proposal is consistent with District 128’s concept drawings that include a commemorative gazebo on the Brainerd site,” Joe Bean, chairman of the group said. “But I want to emphasize that District 128 has taken no position on our proposal and we don’t expect it to.”
Brainerd Place Plaza would become a commemorative site paved with bricks saved from the building. LHS graduates and residents would be encouraged to “buy” a personalized brick for placement in the plaza, while accompanying plaques and artifacts could depict the history of the building and its famous alumni and historic events. The Plaza, which would feature the building’s two stately arched doorways, would be funded by private donations; no public funds would be required. At a cost of $100 per brick – less than half the cost of the first year’s average property tax increase if the referendum passes – the purchase of 1,000 bricks, for example, could generate $100,000 in public funds to help construct the Brainerd Place Plaza and gazebo.
The proposal also suggests that the Brainerd Community Center, Inc., which as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization cannot use its remaining $20,000 in donations to promote a vote for the referendum, put its funds into an escrow account. The funds could be designated for construction of the Brainerd Place Plaza and related historical markers and memorabilia. The group’s proposal includes an offer to work cooperatively with the Brainerd Community Center, the Village of Libertyville and District 128 following the March 18 vote.