Woodridge Patch accepts letters to the editor. The following was submitted by Woodridge resident Mike Huber.
If you're interesting in submitting a letter, e-mail Woodridge Patch Editor Sabrina Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the April 4, 2008 version of the Village of Woodridge’s e-news (CLICK HERE for link to article), the Village of Woodridge boasted about purchasing 44 acres of land from School District 99 for $14.2 million dollars plus $800,000 in legal fees.
The Village stated that “Preservation of open space, and specifically this property, has been a top priority identified by residents at every Town Meeting the Village has held over the course of the last decade. Understanding that priority, the Village has structured its finances to be in a position to purchase the property without impacting property tax rates.”
To aid the Village in convincing the public that purchase of the land was an appropriate use of funds, the Village of Woodridge enlisted the help of the “Keep Green Space Green”, a grassroots group of concerned citizens led by Phil Labak, among others.
In purchasing the District 99 property, the Village of Woodridge listened to their residents, acknowledged the demand to protect open space, and fought in court for over a half a decade to preserve 44 acres of open space for their constituency.
“Now that the six-year battle over ownership of 44 acres in Town Centre has ended, Woodridge residents are ready to move on and enjoy the open space.” stated an article in the Woodridge Patch on September 8, 2010 (CLICK HERE for link to article).
"The village is glad we can put this behind us and excited to move forward in a way that best serves our residents," said Jack Knight, Business Analyst for the Village of Woodridge.
The article goes on to say that Woodridge officials have no plans to make changes to the land. The property will remain an open space where residents can enjoy nature as well as the annual Woodridge Jubilee and various sporting events.
As recently as 2010, the Village of Woodridge valued open space and recreational opportunities for its residents, so much so that it paid $14.2 million for a Jubilee and sporting event site instead of seeing it redeveloped.
Furthermore, residents praised the Village of Woodridge’s cooperation and consensus in executing the purchase of the District 99 property for the preservation of open space.
“There's a collective process in the master plans," Labak said. "The village has built a relationship with folks. We're as pleased as we can be."
“Labak says the group doesn't have any plans to become involved in other property issues in Woodridge. He says the village has done a good job in working with the community, and he expects that to continue.
Fast forward to 2012…
Recently, the Village of Woodridge quietly issued a press release that seems to deviate from previous community priorities and public involvement in the government planning process.
In the press release, they state that they needed to hire a consultant to consider “financing alternatives and potential design reconfigurations including a possible smaller nine-hole course tied to potential redevelopment” of the 121 acre Village Greens of Woodridge Golf Course.
Potential redevelopment of 121 acres of recreation and open space?
Hiring a consultant to determine financing alternatives?
The Village didn’t hesitate to “restructure its finances” to preserve the 44 acre District 99 property for $14.2 million dollars.
Today the 121 acre Village Greens of Woodridge property is facing (a mere, by comparison) $2 million or so in improvements, according to officials who have managed the course for the past 16 years. In all likelihood, those improvements will be 100% paid for by user fees and not taxpayer dollars, which has been the case for the past two decades. During that time, they have paid for nearly $3 million in improvements for a new clubhouse and drainage enhancements without accepting a dime of taxpayer money.
The Village of Woodridge didn’t hesitate to enlist the help of environmentalists, conversationalists, and open space advocates like ‘Keep Green Space Green’ to justify purchasing the District 99 property.
Today, they seem reluctant to include the ‘Keep the Village Green’ committee in their planning to potentially redevelop 121 acres of open space and recreational opportunities for their residents. At least not until AFTER a consultant (which the public has not been afforded input on) has delivered answers to questions (which the public has not been afforded input on) to an RFP (which the Village Board has not publicly voted on).
The Village of Woodridge didn’t need to enlist the help of consultants to ‘restructure its finances’ in order to invest $14.2 million in the District 99 property, or to determine the ‘potential redevelopment’ of the property.
They knew their residents wanted open space and recreation opportunities to improve their quality of life. They listened, they fought for it, and they won.
To the Village of Woodridge we simply ask…
Where’s the ‘collective process in your Master Plan” today?
Where’s the desire to “preserve open space, a top priority identified by residents at every town meeting over the past decade” today?
Why won’t you sit down with the Keep the Village Green committee to help you shape the debate and discuss the issues in a constructive manner before spending thousands of dollars on a consultant?
In other words…what’s changed between 2008 and today?
We’d love to discuss your plan and share it with the residents of Woodridge.
We’d love to build cooperation and consensus with you, much like you afforded the Keep Green Space Green committee back in 2008.
We don’t think it’s unreasonable to be included in the process now, instead of being excluded until after a consultant is hired.
We’d love to talk…
We’re waiting for your response.
—Michael Huber, Woodridge resident
Keep the Village Green Committee