After controversy, things much quieter in Wheatland Township

Wheatland Township had its annual Town Meeting Tuesday night, and aside from some residents with drainage ditch problems, the gathering was lacking the drama of recent years.

“It was a smooth meeting,” Supervisor Chuck Kern said with a smile, after the meeting that drew about 50 Wheatland residents.

The comment was an obvious reference to the pitched battle between Kern and his supporters against the former administration and its plans to build a new township facility on land near 103rd Street and Route 59, adjacent to the building where the Tuesday meeting was held at 4232 Tower Court.

The proposed facility was scheduled to cost Wheatland taxpayers $1.5 million, the opposition of which led to a emotional Town Meeting in August 2011 in which voters overwhelmingly instructed the township to sell the land and use the proceeds to refurbish the old facility at 31W239 91st St.

It also led to the election of Kern as supervisor, along with his supporters Deb Holscher and Mike Crockett as township trustees.

When refurbishing the 91st Street property proved untenable due to the cost of remedying code violations, the township called another town meeting to seek voter guidance and got approval to sell both properties and consolidate all township facilities, including the Highway Department, into the Tower Court building.

Kern said that he and the current board had made good on three specific promises to the taxpayers in their campaign: ending pensions for elected officials, selling the 91st Street property and abating taxes for the 2014 town fund.

And he pointed out that the township recently sold the 91st Street property for $440,000, when it had previously been appraised at only $340,000.

“That was a nice little windfall we had there,” he said.

Kern also noted another promise made at the most recent town meeting was also kept: consolidating the township’s five properties into one single headquarters on Tower Court.

Kern said that the work needed to be done on Tower Court to enable the building to accommodate all township business would begin shortly, with the awarding of contracts expected to begin with the next few weeks.

The cost will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000.

Most of the meeting passed without comment, and Crockett noted that he took it as a sign that township residents were happy with the series provided.

“We’re doing what we told them we would do,” he said.