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updated: 2/15/2013 4:48 PM

Expiring pact won't close DuPage-area state park

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  • State employees will have the task of opening James "Pate" Philip State Park in Bartlett on Monday because an operating agreement for the park is expiring.

      State employees will have the task of opening James "Pate" Philip State Park in Bartlett on Monday because an operating agreement for the park is expiring.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

James "Pate" Philip State Park will remain open next week as the agencies that run and fund the Bartlett facility scramble to extend their operating agreement.

But DuPage County Forest Preserve District staff members won't be the ones opening the parking lot gate a half-hour before sunrise Monday or closing it a half-hour after sunset.

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That task will fall to state employees until forest preserve commissioners can vote Tuesday on a proposed extension of the operating pact the district has with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Bartlett Park District.

The existing agreement expires Monday. Officials had feared the park might be temporarily closed if the extension wasn't in place by then, but that no longer seems to be a concern.

"There will be a seamless process," said Susan Olafson, spokeswoman for the forest preserve district. "We're working with both the state and the park district to make sure there is a stopgap procedure that will enable us to operate as we always have."

If approved by the forest preserve commission, the extension of the existing operating agreement will run through April 19.

The park -- which covers portions of DuPage, Cook and Kane counties -- is owned by the state and leased to the forest preserve.

Under the existing pact, the IDNR is responsible for utilities, capital improvements and garbage pickup. The park district operates the visitor center and helps with education programs. The forest preserve district does police patrols and handles prairie and wetland restoration projects and trail maintenance.

Officials had hoped to come to terms on a new agreement before Monday, but the three agencies needed more time to review a draft proposal.

DuPage officials want a new pact because the existing one doesn't address the issue of bow hunting. The state allows bow hunting at its parks and the forest preserve district doesn't.

"That's an issue that needs to be considered when we are being asked to maintain the operations of the site," Olafson said. "We don't have the insurance to cover it (hunting). So there is a liability issue."

Since 2010, the IDNR has allowed bow hunting in certain areas at Philip State Park. The change came in the midst of the existing operating agreement, which was established in 2006.

Olafson said the forest preserve district believes the state has the liability for hunting at the park. The district wants "to make that more clear in our next agreement," she said.

Known formerly as Tri-County State Park, the site was farmed for years but originally consisted of prairie and wetlands that are being restored.

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