Group makes last push for Butterfield tax request

  • The fate of a vacant lot on the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53 near Glen Ellyn lies in the hands of a few thousand voters.

    The fate of a vacant lot on the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53 near Glen Ellyn lies in the hands of a few thousand voters. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 10/31/2014 6:53 PM

With the election less than a week away, a residents group is reminding residents the fate of a vacant lot on the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53 near Glen Ellyn lies in the hands of a few thousand voters.

Butterfield Park District wants to purchase and preserve the roughly 2.4-acre lot next to its headquarters, but only if voters approve a ballot question that would allow for the district to borrow nearly $3 million.

 

Officials say $1.5 million of that would go toward the purchase of the land, which is currently in the possession of the Naperville-based Conservation Foundation.

Roughly $500,000 would be dedicated to the creation of trails, gardens, passive recreation areas and programming space on the site and the remaining $985,000 would be used to improve and update the district's other parks.

If voters reject the plan, officials say the Conservation Foundation likely will put the property back on the market. There have been proposals in the past to build a gas station and car wash on the site.

In recent weeks, a residents group, Friends of Butterfield Park District, has been canvassing in nearby neighborhoods and urging voters to attend referendum information sessions hosted by the district.

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The group's chairman, Bob Gans, said he's optimistic.

"By and large, the feedback we've gotten has been extremely positive," he said.

Those who oppose the proposal, he said, most often say they don't want to pay more taxes. Others ask why the district didn't acquire the property long ago.

"The reality is that the park district didn't have the money," he said.

Since forming in 1965, the district has never had a referendum question for a tax increase. Officials estimate that if the measure passes, the owner of $200,000 house will pay an extra $54 annually, or about $4.55 a month, for 20 years to support the deal.

"We think if someone is objective and takes a look at all of the plans for improvements, for the expansion of the park's facilities, I think they'll realize they're getting an awful lot for their money," Gans said.

He said the group will be conducting a phone campaign this weekend to reach out to registered voters one last time. Officials estimate there are about 4,900 voters living within the district boundaries and about 9,600 residents overall.

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