Religious group 'considering all of its options' after land deal in South Barrington called off

The religious group that wanted to buy land in South Barrington for a church and school but saw that plan dashed after public protests hasn't decided if it still will try to acquire the park district-owned property.

Court action and a second attempt at buying the land near Bartlett Road and Route 59 are among the options the Fourth Avenue Gospel Building Inc. could pursue. The Maywood-based group alternatively could scrap its plans.

"Going forward, Fourth Avenue Gospel is considering all of its options," group member Russell McAbery said Friday through a spokesman.

Likewise, South Barrington Park District officials don't yet know what they're going to do with the 34-acre property now that they've canceled the planned sale.

A referendum earlier this year that led to the land's being auctioned allowed the park district to hold three auctions in a year, Executive Director Jay Morgan has said. But the district could just keep the property.

The parks board voted Wednesday night to scrap the $1.7 million land deal. The decision followed weeks of public pressure that included what commissioners have called "bullying, threatening and intimidating" emails and comments from residents opposed to the sale.

Opponents - including many residents of the nearby Woods of South Barrington development - demonstrated against the deal at park district headquarters last month. They objected to the proposed use of the land and some of the church's practices.

Some people also alleged district officials weren't as transparent as they could have been when it came to the referendum, the auction and the proposed sale - an accusation commissioners vehemently denied.

In a statement issued after Wednesday's vote, McAbery criticized the opponents for "vicious attacks and harassment." Former Commissioner Shelby Elias said she resigned before Wednesday's meeting because of insulting and defamatory emails she received from opponents.

District officials had said funds from the sale would go to improve local parks.

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Why the South Barrington Park District has halted land sale to church

After public outcry, South Barrington Park District might scrap plan to sell land to religious group

'Bullying' led park board to cancel deal, officials say

  The South Barrington Park District board on Wednesday canceled its planned sale of 34 acres at Bartlett Road and Route 59 to a religious group. John Starks/, August 2023
  Demonstrators gathered outside the South Barrington Park District headquarters last month to protest the proposed sale of land to a religious group. The board on Wednesday scrapped that sale. Russell Lissau/
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