DECATUR - The Decatur Park District is getting its priorities in line for capital projects in the next year.

With more than 30 parks, Decatur Airport, Scovill Zoo and three golf courses, it's not surprising that the district's to-do list is long. Financed by bond sales, the capital budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year likely will come close to $6 million, Chief Financial Officer Rodney Buhr said.

That's about $1.5 million less than last year's capital budget.

"We start with last year's list, and we start looking at it and reprioritizing. Realistically, we start looking at it about the time we finish last year's," Buhr said.

Park district commissioners approved the capital budget at a meeting Nov. 30.

Among the big-ticket items are $1 million for the lakefront development project, which began this summer. Buhr said the money would likely pay for infrastructure, work on the marina in front of the Beach House restaurant and other projects in Nelson Park.

The capital budget also sets aside $750,000 for the addition of penguins to Scovill Zoo. District officials have conducted steady fundraising since last year for the exhibit.

District officials have also earmarked as a top priority the construction of a stand-alone pavilion at Hickory Point Golf Course. Buhr said the pavilion would help the district's event planners accommodate larger parties for events such as weddings.

Often overshadowed are the district's ongoing efforts to maintain its neighborhood parks. More than $2 million is allocated for projects such as a tennis court repair in Kiwanis Park, remodeling restrooms in Garman Park and road work in Fairview Park.

"People tend to focus on the big stuff and don't see that we do work in the local neighborhood parks," Buhr said.

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