Island Lake won't have to return $239,000 state grant for park, according to settlement

Despite complaints of financial abuse, Island Lake won't have to return a $239,000 state grant issued in 1992 for the purchase of Greenleaf Woods Park.

Instead, village officials must promise three parks - Greenleaf, Veterans and Converse - will forever be maintained for outdoor recreation use and follow state open-land rules.

Village trustees on Thursday approved a deal with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to settle the matter.

Mayor Charles Amrich called the deal "a good thing" for Island Lake.

"It doesn't cost us a thing and it keeps those three parks open as parks forever and ever," he told the Daily Herald.

The $239,000 was delivered in 1992 to help the village purchase the 12 acres now called Greenleaf Woods.

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.

But in a March, the IDNR claimed the village misrepresented and omitted facts regarding the project and failed to use the grant as promised.

Amrich was mayor when the village procured the land.

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 acquired by the Daily Herald under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act revealed.

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

This week's settlement comes a few months after state and village officials met in Springfield to discuss the matter. The settlement documents don't address the allegations.

"It's fine," Trustee Chuck Cermak said of the deal. "If the DNR is happy with it, we're happy with it."

Veterans Park and Greenleaf Woods already were being maintained to meet IDNR standards, Amrich said. The only real change is to Converse Park's status, he said.

Veterans Park is on Route 176, west of Lakeview Drive, and Converse Park is on Route 176, east of Greenleaf Avenue.

IDNR spokesman Chris Young said he can't comment on the settlement until his agency receives the necessary documents from Island Lake.

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