Oak Brook, Westmont residents seek S-curve solution
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:11AM
As Oak Brook and the Westmont Park District prepare to head to court over the S-curve property near 35th Street and Cass Avenue, residents of both towns met to see if they could help settle the matter.
Residents met Wednesday at the Royal Hills Condominium to review the land’s history and gather ideas as the court date nears. Represented were Royal Hills, Saddlebrook, Midwest Club and other 35th Street homeowners.
The lawsuit, which will be heard June 14 in Wheaton, was filed by the Westmont Park District and claims the land, south of 35th Street and bordered by Cass Avenue, lies in unincorporated DuPage County and not in Oak Brook.
The Westmont Park District believed it owned the entire piece of land, but records showed .75 acres of it remained within Oak Brook’s boundaries. Oak Brook’s board agreed to de-annex the land to Westmont in September 2010, but repealed that ordinance in March 2011 after believing the Westmont Park District planned to sell the site for development.
Oak Brook founder Paul Butler transferred the land to Westmont in April 1987, but the deed stated the “parcels be utilized by the grantee for passive park purposes.” Residents and the Village of Oak Brook have proposed an inter-governmental agreement between the two communities over the property, but the Westmont Park District has shown no interest in agreeing to one.
“We know in past meetings with them they’ve basically said, ‘Trust us,’” Oak Brook resident Alan Hanzlik said. “I hate spending legal dollars. I do think the Westmont Park District needs to know the residents impacted will not lay down and let a dishonest act occur.”
Residents raised concerns over what a proposed development could mean for the site, including a possible obstructed view of the intersection, increased traffic and possible flood or rain water for existing homes.
“There is an easy win-win-win situation here,” Oak Brook resident Rich Knitter said. “Each side wins and the Westmont Park District can stop the legal expenses. Oak Brook is willing to do what they want in the lawsuit, but they have to sign the intergovernmental agreement.”
One idea that gained support Wednesday came from Royal Hills resident Mike Hartigan. Hartigan suggested keeping the land open, as the deed states, but christening the site as a memorial park for first responders in both villages.
“Here is something to honor them, both Oak Brook and Westmont in a joint venture,” Hartigan said. “What can be more passive than a memorial park? I think if we do our homework, it won’t fail.”
Hanzlik and Hartigan said area residents would be interested in contributing funds for a monument and said they would attempt to arrange a private meeting with Westmont Park District officials.
“It’s a grass roots effort of interested parties,” Hanzlik said of trying to resolve the situation. “Why continue to sue each other? You hate to go through all this when it’s really needless.”