Carol Stream transfers 16 acres to park district
A batter who hits a home run on fields 4 and 5 at Carol Stream's Armstrong Park might make contact with the pitch on one piece of property and have the ball land on another.
Since the 1960s, the village of Carol Stream has owned 16.38 acres — primarily filled with native prairie plants intended for stormwater drainage — that separates the north and south portions of the rest of the 72-acre park owned by Carol Stream Park District.
But village officials say now is a good time to transfer the land to the park district so current recreational uses on the south side of the park that will be displaced by a $5 million county stormwater management project can be relocated.
"It seemed to be one of those things that went on for years," Village Manager Joe Breinig said. "It wasn't causing any problems ... but there was no reason for us to own it."
The property transfer, approved this week by the village board, was agreed upon in a June 2011 pact among the village, park district and county that authorized the construction of water reservoirs and a pumping station at Armstrong Park to combat flooding.
Two of the park's six baseball fields are being removed due to the project, but there's a chance one field could be added back with the park board's consent, according to Arnie Biondo, the district's executive director.
Even though the village has owned the parcel, the park district has been handling mowing and upkeep, as with the rest of Armstrong Park, he said.
Officials say the village will transfer the title of the parcel to the park district for free, while the park district will agree to dedicate the roadway sections contained in the parcel — including portions of Chippewa Trail, Napa Street and Niagara Street — back to the village.
Records show the property was deeded to the village in 1978 and leased to the park district three years later, according to Chris Oakley, assistant to the village manager. It's likely, he said, that the land was donated to the village by one of Carol Stream's original developers.
Jan Smith, who has lived near the park for 50 years, recalls when the village acquired the land in the 1960s and planned to save some of it for flood control, but sell the rest for development. Smith, a longtime parks advocate, started a petition drive asking village officials to keep the land as open space.
"I made up a petition on my typewriter and took it door-to-door. I went to the village board with the petition asking them to not sell the land and keep it, and they did. It was amazing — they kept it, and it was made into a park," Smith said.
While demolition of the Aldrin Community Center took place last spring to make way for the stormwater improvements, only a large mound of dirt sits in its place as the county waits for permit approvals from the state to begin construction, county officials said.
Final construction plans must be approved by the village and park district before the project is put out to bid by the county. The park board is expected to see the plans Dec. 10.
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