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updated: 4/23/2014 4:01 PM

Island Lake may form committee to deal with Greenleaf Woods grant issue

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  • An Illinois Open Space Lands sign at Greenleaf Woods Park in Island Lake.

       An Illinois Open Space Lands sign at Greenleaf Woods Park in Island Lake.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Charles Amrich

      Charles Amrich

 
 

With a state agency demanding Island Lake return a $239,000 grant issued more than 22 years ago, village officials may form a special committee to handle the issue.

The four-member group also would deal with unspecified labor-union negotiations and personnel issues, according to details included on the agenda for Thursday's village board meeting.

That session is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave.

According to the agenda, the committee would consist of Mayor Charles Amrich and three trustees. The agenda doesn't identify which trustees are to be considered for the posts.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' recent efforts to reclaim the $239,000 it awarded the village in 1992 would be the new group's most pressing concern.

The grant was designed to help the village purchase about 12 acres now called Greenleaf Woods Park.

The park is on the east side of town, near Route 176 and Westridge Drive. Aside from some trails, the space is undeveloped.

The grant covered half of the estimated $478,000 purchase price, according to village documents acquired by the Daily Herald through the Freedom of Information Act.

In a March 10 letter to Amrich, the agency claimed the village misrepresented and omitted facts regarding the project and failed to use the grant as promised.

The IDNR made identical claims in 2008. That request came less than two years after a criminal investigation into the grant and the land acquisition, documents revealed.

Nothing came of the investigation or the IDNR's 2008 effort to recover the money.

A hearing regarding the latest request is planned for May 20 in Springfield.

Amrich was mayor when the $239,000 was delivered by the IDNR. He couldn't be reached for comment about the proposed committee.

Amrich previously declined to comment about the grant and the IDNR's renewed attempt to reclaim the cash.

Trustee Shannon Fox, who leads the board's grants committee, voiced concern about the dispute.

"We can't afford to have to pay back $239,000," she said.

Fox also opposes the creation of the committee, saying the mayor and the full six-member board should discuss the grant dispute and the other matters, not a smaller group.

"This is nothing that shouldn't be handled in our regular executive-session meetings," she said.

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