Land originally intended to become an industrial park in Pingree Grove is now set to become the newest Kane County Forest Preserve acquisition.
Pingree Grove owns about 54 acres of land on the west side of Pingree Grove Forest Preserve, near Route 20. The land has been divided into multiple lots. But the new plan would rejoin those lots into two large parcels.
The largest parcel, of about 42 acres, would be sold to the forest preserve district. Village officials would keep the remaining 12 acres, which contains all the utilities infrastructure needed for future development.
The 42 acres forest preserve officials want to buy would cost taxpayers $572,130. That's about $13,500 per acre. District officials would use some of the remaining funds from the 2011 referendum for the purchase if it is approved by the full forest preserve commission.
At an executive committee meeting Friday, Commissioner Deb Allan questioned the amount and value of the purchase. She noted the land is not the typical woods nor existing farmland that the district normally purchases.
"Shouldn't we be paying something very modest for this, like $7,000 (per acre)?" Allan asked.
District President John Hoscheit said the district has coveted the land for some time, but cost has always been at about $40,000 per acre until now.
Monica Meyers, the district's executive director, said the main use for the land would be drainage and flood mitigation since a fair portion of the 42 acres is wetlands.
Pingree Grove Mayor Greg Marston said that's exactly why it makes sense to sell the land, known as the Harrison property, to the forest preserve.
"I would classify that space as un-buildable," Marston said.
"So it's really a win-win. We have the ability to generate some revenue from that land by selling it to the forest preserve and continue to keep it open space.
From a quality-of-life perspective, that is a definite plus for the residents of this area to expand that forest preserve."
Marston said that village officials are still committed to the creation of a successful business park, which would adjoin the land being sold to the forest preserve.
Forest preserve district commissioners are expected to take a final vote on the land purchase proposal Tuesday, Dec. 10.