The Village of Brookfield added its voice to a growing chorus complaining that a referendum question regarding a $10 million bond sale in Lyons Township on the Nov. 2, 2004 ballot misled voters.
Village trustees on Feb. 14 unanimously passed a resolution calling for Lyons Township officials to ensure that at least some of that $10 million benefits of all residents of the township and not just to purchase a portion of the Timber Trails Country Club in Western Springs.
If Lyons Township doesn’t do that, Brookfield may sue to invalidate the bond issuance, according to the resolution. Officials in a handful of other Lyons Township municipalities have expressed a similar stance, including Lyons, Summit and Justice.
“I just want the people of Brookfield (to have) their fair share of the bond money,” said Village President Bill Russ.
Lyons Township includes Brookfield south of Southview Avenue.
Meanwhile, Save the Timber, a group of citizens that petitioned to get the November question on the ballot, has succeeded in getting another $10 million referendum question on the April 5 ballot. Their hope is to pool the money and buy a portion of the golf course from the development company which currently owns it.
Western Springs One bought the 105-acre parcel of land at an auction last fall for $45 million. Save the Timber attempted to forge a public/private partnership that could buy the land and save it from development. Despite the failure of that effort and a lack of future public sources for land acquisition, the referendum question made it to the November ballot and passed by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
The Brookfield resolution argues that the referendum question used in November was misleading, since it called for $10 million in park bonds “for the purpose of procuring and improving one or more small parks.”
Since the referendum didn’t spell out that the money was to be used solely for the purchase of Timber Trails land, the Brookfield resolution states that what Lyons Township officials are proposing is “contrary to the intentions of the electors and the specific wording of the referendum proposition.”
Cook County Commissioner Anthony Peraica (R-16th), a Riverside resident and Lyons Township committeemen, has also thrown himself into the debate, saying he opposes the new referendum question.
“I don’t think a dozen people who got out there and obtained 125 signatures should be able to put this on the backs of all the people in Lyons Township,” Peraica said. “You’ve got $10 million, and you’re adding another $10 million in debt. And it’s still insufficient funds to acquire and maintain the land.”
Peraica also argued that “never in its 150-year has Lyons Township operated a park. There’s no commission to oversee or maintain [a new park].”
At the same time, Peraica criticized the move by municipalities to threaten legal action against the township over the distribution of the bond proceeds.
“Politicians have latched on to the issue and are twisting it for their own purposes,” Peraica said. “They’re saying they are warriors for the little guy … but there’s no way Brookfield is ever, under any circumstances, going to qualify for any of the money.”
Peraica cited the Illinois state statute regarding issuing park bonds as proof that municipalities cannot force Lyons Township officials to divvy up the bond proceeds.
“There’s no provision allowing the township to divide the proceeds among the 17 municipalities for improvements to their own parks,” Peraica said.