The Elmhurst Park District Board of Commissioners has reached unanimous consensus to pursue eminent domain against a developer who is attempting to force the Park District to relocate a section of the Salt Creek Greenway Trail in the Pick Subdivision. As part of the DuPage County trail system, this path has been operated and maintained by the Park District for public use since 2010. The section of trail in question, a 17-foot-wide strip was, unbeknownst to Park District, privately owned and recently purchased for $9,500 by a developer from a real estate firm who bought the property in 2020 through the payment of back taxes.
An official appraisal of the property provided to the Park District by Polach Appraisal Group, Inc., concluded the property does not meet minimum lot size requirements for a single-family dwelling and a significant portion of the property is part of a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA designation severely limits use for the property outside of open space.
Negotiations to purchase the land from the developer have been futile. A purchase offer by the Park District of more than three times the amount the developer paid for the property was flatly rejected. During a neighborhood meeting that the Park District attended with residents of the Pick Subdivision, the developer offered to donate the land to the Park District. During negotiations as to how this donation would work, the developer added additional demands such as a playground being built on the land before any donation would be made. Additionally, until such time as the playground was completed, the Park District was to pay rent for the property. While the Park District’s Vision 2020 plan recognizes the need for a playground in the Pick Subdivision, funds are not currently available to cover the $400,000 expected cost to build a playground. Alternatively, to reroute the path away from this property, it would cost the Park District more than $250,000.
“The use of eminent domain is not something the Board takes lightly,” said Park Board President Vince Spaeth, “In this situation its use is entirely appropriate to preserve the public’s access to the trail that has benefitted the community for more than a decade”.