Petitioners pledge to bring back 4-town merger despite ballot denial

 
 
Updated 2/10/2017 4:10 PM
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  • Mayors David Brummel of Warrenville, Steve Chirico of Naperville, Gina Cunningham-Picek of Woodridge and Joseph Broda of Lisle all say a proposal to merge their four towns isn't a good idea. But the attorney for a mysterious group that supports the concept says the idea won't go away.

    Mayors David Brummel of Warrenville, Steve Chirico of Naperville, Gina Cunningham-Picek of Woodridge and Joseph Broda of Lisle all say a proposal to merge their four towns isn't a good idea. But the attorney for a mysterious group that supports the concept says the idea won't go away. Daily Herald file photo

The unnamed supporters of the failed push for a ballot question about merging Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge with Naperville don't intend to give up, their attorney says.

Despite the fact the question won't be before voters April 4, those behind the idea plan to pursue another annexation referendum, said Frank Avila, a Chicago-based attorney representing the petitioners.

DuPage County Judge Paul M. Fullerton on Wednesday granted motions to dismiss the question, meaning it will not appear for voters in any of the four communities. The question could have asked, for example, "Shall the Village of Lisle be annexed into the City of Naperville?"

Avila said his clients respect the court but think Fullerton applied the incorrect law and came to the wrong decision.

"Democracy lost because the people do not get to decide because of the triad of lawyers from the three municipalities arguing technical points that were not applicable, in our opinion, but delayed the process," Avila said in an email.

The question was not allowed on the ballot in Warrenville and Woodridge because petitioners did not turn in enough signatures to match 10 percent of the people who voted in the previous municipal election, Fullerton said.

The question was denied a place on the Lisle ballot because proper procedure was not followed; petitioners failed to notify the court within 14 days of filing their petitions so a hearing could be scheduled to consider any objections.

Even before the denials were issued, Avila said his clients, who have not come forward publicly, intended to try again if this consolidation effort was not successful. He reiterated that intention Thursday but would not say how or when the petitioners plan to try again.

If Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge ever do join Naperville, the merger would create a city with a combined population of 216,751, making it the second-largest in the state. The city would sprawl from slightly north of I-88 all the way south to past 111th street and from Lemont Road west to past Route 59.

Mayors of all four communities say the likelihood of such a merger is extremely remote. They say their residents oppose the idea and it would not be an example of good government.

"The idea of consolidating a municipality is so enormously complex that it'd be hard just to get your arms around," Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said.

With police, fire and libraries involved -- on top of all the other city services -- merging operations, facilities, employees and policies would prove quite challenging, Chirico said.

"Imagine trying to figure out how that would all work," he said, "and then make it fair."

Instead of pushing for municipal consolidation, Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham-Picek said she and her neighboring leaders plan to keep up their long-standing practice of cooperation.

At least once a month, she said, the mayors come together through the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference. They share cost-saving ideas and collaborate on joint purchasing agreements.

"It reflects how we all consistently work well together to represent our residents," she said.

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