St. Charles Parks Trying to Avoid Going to Court

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Byline: Alicia Fabbre Daily Herald Staff Writer

St. Charles Park District commissioners have never been big on going to court to buy land.

But their court-free streak could end Monday if commissioners can't strike a deal for a park near Moseley Lane.

A Wheaton-based developer wants to build a 152-home subdivision on 90 acres near Moseley Lane and Kirk Road.

At the very least, commissioners want a 10-acre park in the subdivision. At most, neighboring homeowners want commissioners to buy the northern 50 acres to save the trees and wetlands.

Park commissioners Monday will decide which park they want - and where they want it. They will present their ruling to the city's plan commissioners during a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. But in either case, they must strike a deal with developer Joe Keim, who in recent months has expressed little interest in negotiating with the park district - or moving any parks shown in his plans.

While park officials Thursday declined to comment on their upcoming decision, they remained optimistic they'd keep their court-free streak.

"I'm very hopeful that we can (reach consensus) and we're still talking," said Jim Breen, executive director of the park district.

While park commissioners are intent on getting some recreation land in the subdivision, Breen said commissioners have always preferred negotiating a deal rather than turning to eminent domain and risking a lengthy and expensive court battle. Under state law, a taxing body can sue to forcibly take property, provided it pays fair market value and the land is for public use. …