| Why Vote 'Yes' | Who
It | How Can I Help? |
Referendum in the News | Issues and
Answers | Results of Previous Referenda
| Contact Us
of Kane Open Space Referendum
April 11, 2017
Preserve District moves ahead with plans for $50m referendum
New boat launches in South Elgin's Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve and
Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve in Elgin and a complete design
overhaul at Oakhurst Forest Preserve in Aurora are among the preserve
improvement projects the Forest Preserve District of Kane County is
planning thanks to the passage of a $50 million bond referendum
The Kane County Clerk's office unofficial results of the April 4
referendum question showed it passed by 52 percent while 45 percent
opposed it. The Aurora Election Commission's unofficial results showed
53 percent of voters said yes, 47 percent said no, according to its
"We are obviously very happy," said Brook McDonald, executive director
of The Conservation Foundation. "We knew it would be a tough one. Our
polling data showed there was ample support for it but there was some
ugliness at the end which impacted the final vote. I am glad we had
some good cushion to buffer it."
There was some pushback on the referendum with Kane County Chairman
Chris Lauzen taking a public stand against it. Lauzen urged residents
to vote no via a YouTube video outlying his concerns. But, he said he
accepted the results.
"I always respect the majority vote that is how our system works even
though a yes vote means the no voters have to pay the same share,"
Lauzen said. "Once the voter speak, I listen intensely. That's what we
do. The issue has been decided."
The Conservation Foundation conducted polling last fall to determine
whether there was support for a referendum and handled marketing it
during the election. The 45-year-old nonprofit's mission is to
preserve land and one way it does that is by helping forest preserve
districts and park districts acquire land either through running
referendum campaigns, helping with fundraiser or land donations,
"Some people were concerned about the taxes because once we explained
the District was paying off previous bonds and the taxes on the forest
preserve District's portion would be going down," people supported it,
"People obviously enjoy the forest preserves," McDonald said. "What
people seemed to like the best is the trail, the natural beauty and
Now that voters have approved the referendum, the fifth since 1999,
the District will follow a familiar process as with other referenda.
"The first part of the process is to work with our financial
consultant, Spear Financial, to determine the best time to sell the
bonds," Forest Preserve District of Kane County Executive Director
Monica Meyers said.
Bonds could be sold this year, but the District would not begin taking
in or budgeting referendum monies until the 2018-2019 fiscal year,
"It is not a bad thing (to wait), it allows you some additional time
to plan things," Meyers said.
The additional time helps the District apply for grants and continue
its long term planning, Meyers said. Projects can take two to three
years to complete from the planning stage from the preliminary design
to public input to engineering, she said.
District officials did not release information about what properties
will be acquired using the $50 million referendum, but it did lay out
"We are always looking at property," Meyers said. The District is
trying to "stay true to what the Land Acquisition Commission has
established as priorities: connecting pieces to existing preserves,
creating high quality habitats and connectivity."
"It gives us direction to stay focused on existing connectivity,"
Meyers said. "It is laser focused instead of looking everywhere. I
think it provides the best opportunity to establish a high quality
forest preserve system that way."
The District's plan to expand existing forest preserves, create
connectivity and care for habitats is a good idea, McDonald said.
"When people go to forest preserves they like trails and trees and
plants but when you see a hawk or owl or deer, it is a very special
Meyers said the referendum passage was exciting. "I think it is
thrilling when you see the public support that is there," she said.
"We work hand in hand with the Commission to determine what the
community wants and what the needs are and try to provide it. It shows
you are doing what they asked you to do. I think that is the exciting
Lauzen was perplexed because the vote was not consistent with all the
complaints he hears from residents telling him their property taxes
are too high and the thousands of people moving out of Illinois due to
high property taxes, he said.
Voters "had the chance to protect property tax relief and they decided
the other way, which again, is the people's decision," Lauzen said.
Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.