DuPage forest panel to explore uses for historic barn
DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners are moving to create a panel that will advise them later this year on possible public uses for a historic barn near Naperville.
President Daniel Hebreard is asking the commission to approve the appointment of five people -- Rachel Jenness, Jim Hill, Troy Cooper, Diane Sellinger and Britney Toussaint -- to an ad hoc committee on the Greene Farm barn. A vote on the appointments is expected next week.
The barn and adjacent farmhouse -- which both are owned by the district -- have stood unused for decades at the intersection of Greene and Hobson roads.
The district initially planned to use the Greene Farm for cultural, educational, historical and recreation purposes. To date, it's only been an aesthetic feature for people using the trails at Greene Valley Forest Preserve.
But Commissioner Mary Lou Wehrli of Naperville says a use should be found for the 14,000-square-foot barn, especially since the district spent roughly $1.2 million to stabilize it in 2012.
Starting last summer, Wehrli held a series of meetings with residents to gather ideas and feedback. In November, officials announced plans to form the ad hoc committee.
The panel will be asked to "identify partnerships, funding sources and potential revenues," officials said. It also will analyze development, operations and maintenance costs.
"I think it will be of great benefit to the forest preserve district to have a recognized committee," Wehrli said.
While the barn went through years of "tearful deterioration on the landscape," Wehrli said there's now momentum to take care of it.
"It's at a good point with new people, new ideas and new opportunities -- not only for what it might be but how to fund it," Wehrli said.
Hebreard said the committee is expected to work for about eight months before making recommendations to the forest preserve commission. Commissioners then will decide whether to pursue the suggestions.
"Hopefully, good can come out of it," Hebreard said.
The central portion of the farmhouse was built for William Briggs Greene in 1850, although the exact date of the barn's construction is unknown. The farmhouse -- known as Oak Cottage -- and the barn were acquired by the district in 1971.
In 2016, it spent roughly $26,400 to repair the barn and set aside up to $34,400 a year for maintenance.
At the time, officials said it would cost millions to renovate the farmhouse and barn for use by the public. They said help from an outside group would be needed to raise the money.