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Butterfield District seeking $3M referendum to purchase former site of proposed gas station

GLEN ELLYN – The Butterfield Park District has approved placing a referendum on the November ballot that could allow the group to purchase a controversial piece of land.

The referendum would be for a total of $2,985,000 and is scheduled to have a life of 20 years, according to district Executive Director Larry Reiner.

Of the money generated by the referendum, $2 million would be used for land acquisition. The remaining funds would go toward cleaning up the property, adding gardens and trails and improving other district parks.

"We're a small park district and we don't have these reserve funds at all," Reiner said.

For a home with a market value of $200,000, the estimated monthly tax increase would be $4.55, according to district documents.

The property in question is a 2.24-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Routes 56 and 53, which had been the proposed site of a gas station.

Buck's Inc. had a plan to construct a 6,800-square-foot convenience store with a 10-pump station, but was met with heavy criticism from the public involving the health risks of a gas station being located next to the park district and traffic concerns. The DuPage County Board voted 14-4 to deny Buck's a conditional use permit.

The property is owned by the Conservation Foundation, which purchased it for $1.5 million in April to keep Buck's from being able to access the land, but the foundation can only hold it for a few years.

"If we cannot raise the money to buy, the foundation will have no choice but to sell it," Reiner said.

Reiner believes the referendum will pass because the community has already shown support for the project. A recent survey performed by the district showed 98 percent of respondents said they wanted the property to be district-owned.

"That question was pretty much answered for them [the board]. The answer of how [to fund it] was still up in the air," Reiner said.

The district Board of Commissioners unanimously approved putting the referendum on the November ballot during its Aug. 14 meeting. One board member was absent, but Reiner said she sent a letter to the board stating she supported allowing the public to vote on the referendum.

"Our board is committed to preserve and improve the quality of life in the district, but we need to know that this is what our community wants," said Board President Michael Kryger in a statement from the district.

The district will host several public information sessions to discuss the proposed referendum. The first is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the district's administrative office, 21W730 Butterfield Road.

There will be two more informational sessions: one in September and two in October. The dates of those meetings have not been set.

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