Butterfield Park District voters to weigh annexation of Walmart, other commercial properties

The tiny Butterfield Park District serves about 10,000 residents near Glen Ellyn and Lombard.

Voters will decide next week whether to expand the district’s boundaries to include Walmart, the Abbington banquet hall and other long-established businesses in the Route 53-Butterfield Road area.

Officials are seeking to annex the commercial properties into the park district as a means of bolstering its tax base. District leaders have described the referendum effort as a “rare opportunity” to generate revenues from sources other than residential property taxes. Officials also stress that residential parcels are not part of the annexation bid.

“That was huge to get that message out, that it would not increase their taxes and that it would permanently generate additional financial resources … from the commercial properties,” park board President Lisa Saunderson said.

If voters approve the measure, the district would absorb about 27 acres of commercial land at busy Route 53 and Butterfield roads. The properties are occupied by a Walmart Supercenter, McDonald’s, Abbington Distinctive Banquets, BP Wash-N-Go, Starbucks, Mobil Gas and the KinderCare Learning Center.

Officials will make the case for the annexation attempt during an informational meeting set for 5 p.m. Thursday in park district headquarters.

The district already has sent out mailers about pursuing the properties “before another park district permanently takes this area and the accompanying financial resources into its boundaries.”

There are “potentially other park districts that could in the future do the same thing,” said Michael Hixenbaugh, executive director of the Butterfield parks system.

However, the Glen Ellyn Park District is not expressing interest in the area.

“It’s not contiguous,” Executive Director Dave Thommes said. “So it’s not even really an option for us. It’s well outside our village and park district boundaries.”

Currently, the Butterfield Park District is roughly bounded by Finley Road to the east, Route 53 to the west and all areas north of Butterfield to 16th Street.

Park district commissioners voted last June to place the annexation question on March 19 primary ballots. District officials have sought to quell concerns from some residents worried about nearby municipalities eyeing their unincorporated neighborhoods for annexation.

“We're a separate organization. We're not in communication with any of them on this,” Hixenbaugh said. “This is simply a park district manner.”

The park district would use the commercial tax revenue to improve parks, facilities and services.

“We want the best. Our families are growing up or have grown up in this district,” Saunderson said. “So we’re revisiting now, through pool and rec, to try to build and rebuild programs.”

Voters approved its last referendum request to borrow nearly $3 million to purchase and preserve a lot on the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53 where a gas station had been proposed.

The district has since developed the area into a park with a pavilion. Officials plan to add more improvements to Glenbriar Park: basketball and pickleball courts, a sledding hill, additional paved walking paths and parking.

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