DuPage forest preserve scraps plan to acquire site near Bartlett

  • Concerns about existing structures and parking lots have prompted DuPage County Forest Preserve officials to abandon an effort to acquire a former nursery next to West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett.

    Concerns about existing structures and parking lots have prompted DuPage County Forest Preserve officials to abandon an effort to acquire a former nursery next to West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/3/2018 12:30 PM

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is abandoning plans to buy a former nursery next to the West Branch Forest Preserve near Bartlett.

Forest preserve commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-2 to end negotiations to acquire the former Prestige Nursery and Garden Center along Army Trail Road. The roughly 6.8-acre site is west of the preserve's main entrance.

 

Commissioner Linda Painter said she can't support the purchase because the site has too many buildings and parking lots.

"I'm just concerned about the amount of cement (on the site)," said Painter, one of the commissioners who voted to terminate the talks.

Commissioner Marsha Murphy said she's hesitant to buy the site because of potential environmental issues.

"They (the property owners) could come back with a different offer," Murphy said. "And they can do environmental testing at their expense -- not ours."

Still, two commissioners -- Al Murphy and Mary Lou Wehrli -- want to continue pursuing the deal.

"Typically when we respond to a contract, there's a chance to hear back from the other party," Wehrli said. "You continue discussing the things that you disagree on. To totally stop working on something that I think offers a lot of opportunities to the district is premature."

It's not the first time the district considered buying the site, but previous negotiations also fell through.

The latest talks began after the property owners contacted Al Murphy.

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On Tuesday, he said he still believes the property would be a "good addition" to the district's land holdings.

Officials have said it's rare to have a chance to acquire large pieces of land.

West Branch is a 713-acre preserve that features Deep Quarry Lake and Bass Lake. In addition, a stretch of the West Branch of the DuPage River snakes through the preserve.

Commissioners said they like the location of the former nursery because it's immediately north of Bass Lake.

"I understand the other commissioners' concerns," Al Murphy said. "But I still think it's something we should go for."

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