Come next spring, gardeners will likely be growing vegetables in community garden plots at Prairie Green Preserve in Geneva.
The Geneva City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to an agreement with the Kane County Forest Preserve to annex property for the public gardens.
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The council also approved a deal with the Geneva Park District and the forest district, wherein the city will supply water and the park district will manage the plots.
The city owns most of the preserve, on Peck Road north of Kaneville Road, but the forest preserve district has about 40 acres near Bricher Road. The plots would sit on that portion, a former farm.
The city and the forest preserve are negotiating who will ultimately own the whole 573-acre preserve.
Under the agreements, the city will run a water main across Peck and put in yard hydrants so gardeners can water their plants. The park district will design and install a parking lot for gardeners, grade the site and rent the 140 plots. The forest district will provide police services.
The city will supply up to $300 of water a year. After that, the park district pays.
The city bought land for Prairie Green Preserve from 1998 to 2003, spending $10 million. The main goal was to keep it out of the hands of developers, during a time when houses were rapidly replacing farmland on the western edge of town.
Some of the land has been returned to wetland status, as the preserve is on top of a high-quality aquifer-recharging area. The city hopes to sell wetland credits to land developers building in the Mill Creek watershed and use that money to add amenities such as a bike trail, the garden plots and a picnic area. It has yet to sell any credits, however.
The council could give final approval to the annexation agreement and the garden use permit Monday. The forest district is due to consider it in August, according to Dick Untch, Geneva's community development director.
Registration for the plots would start in December. Residents of the Geneva Park District would have first priority, according to Trish Burns, manager of the Peck Farm Park Interpretive Center. She will help manage the plots.
If the demand is there, more plots could be added, Untch said.