Bensenville Park District wants to reconnect golf course with village
After 15 years without a Bensenville address, White Pines Golf Club soon may be brought back into the village.
Bensenville Park District commissioners on Wednesday unanimously agreed to pursue reconnecting the 257-acre golf course with the village. A public hearing will be held this summer before the village board votes on the proposal, officials said.
"It's a good thing for the entire village," Joseph Vallez, manager of park operations, said. "There are many people in the village who thought the action taken many years back, where the village and the park district split, was not positive."
The 36-hole course at 500 W. Jefferson St. disconnected from Bensenville in 2003 after a yearlong dispute between the village and park district. That feud began when park officials refused to apply for a liquor license they considered too restrictive. The district also wanted to avoid paying the village's amusement tax.
Village President Frank DeSimone on Thursday said reconnecting White Pines would "right a wrong."
"They should have never left the village in the first place," he said.
DeSimone said talk of annexing White Pines started shortly after he was elected last year. Village and park district staff members eventually were directed to negotiate terms of a potential pact.
According to a draft of that agreement, the village would give municipal sales tax and amusement tax dollars collected at the course to the district.
"Any new revenues we would get -- amusement tax, sales tax -- we're rebating back to the park district so they could tackle some of their outstanding capital improvement issues," Village Manager Evan Summers said.
White Pines would pay less for water service and a liquor license compared to what it's paying now. It also would receive police service.
Summers said there would be no financial loss for the village. "We're going back to business as usual," he said.
DeSimone said both sides would agree to cooperate and consult "to speedily and amicably resolve any unforeseen difficulties or problems."
Returning to the village would allow the district to consider installing video gambling machines at the White Pines clubhouse, although officials say they're not considering such a move at this time.
According to the agreement, the district "has been engaged in evaluation of whether to sell an unidentified portion" of the golf course, although no decisions have been made.
The land would be annexed with the village's most restrictive residential zoning classification and any rezoning would be addressed later. In the meantime, the district would continue all its current activities on the property.
While "multiple developers" contacted him about buying portions of White Pines, Vallez said no deals are in the works.
"With respect to a future development, there is nothing on the table," he said. "There are no plans or anything like that. There's just information that was brought to my attention that I shared with the board."
Last month, the district's attorney, Mary Dickson, told the park board it would need to get Illinois law changed before it could sell property. State law doesn't allow districts to sell more than eight acres of a golf course, she said.
Before taking that step, Dickson said the district might want to gauge public support -- possibly through an advisory referendum.