A Question of Property Rights Park District Enforces the Rules to Weed out Illegal Gardens
Singh, Shruti Date, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Shruti Date Singh Daily Herald Staff Writer
Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
That adage doesn't necessarily ring true when you're talking about public property, and Hoffman Estates resident Kathy Fischer recently found that out.
Fischer, who began landscaping a slice of Hoffman Estates Park District land bordering her own back yard a few years ago, now must uproot her plants and trees and give back the land.
Fischer said she cannot understand why the park district would want to plant sod in an area she turned into a manicured garden.
For principle and precedent, explained park district Executive Director Dean Bostrom.
"If she could maintain it, that means any other resident can put trees on park district property," Bostrom said. "There is no law that says: If you maintain it, you keep it."
The park district owns a 100-foot-wide stretch of land - known as a greenway - that runs between the back yards in Fischer's neighborhood, which is located off of Huntington Drive. Some park district greenways are paved but the one behind Fischer's back yard is a grassy area, which, in her opinion, has been ignored by the park district.
"I think the main problem is it has been maintained by the residents and neglected by the park district," she said. Fischer said she had been unclear about who owned the land until the park district contacted her in 2001.
Bostrom countered that the land was not neglected. He said, for instance, a swing set previously stood in Fischer's back yard. …