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Wheatland Township sells old headquarters

The Wheatland Township office building in Naperville is the center of a controversy between some town officials who want to build a new facility and residents who say now is not the time to spend the money. Residents were able to block the plan at the annual town meeting last month. Thursday night, the township held another meeting to set the agenda for the continued town meeting planned for May 23.
 (Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media)

The Wheatland Township office building in Naperville is the center of a controversy between some town officials who want to build a new facility and residents who say now is not the time to spend the money. Residents were able to block the plan at the annual town meeting last month. Thursday night, the township held another meeting to set the agenda for the continued town meeting planned for May 23. (Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media)

Wheatland Township has sold its former headquarters at 31W236 91st St. in Naperville, closing the books on a very contentious chapter in township history.

“We had five offers the first week (on the market),” Township Supervisor Chuck Kern said at Thursday night’s board meeting.

The buyer is Marker 227 LLC, a pension fund that shelled out $439,900 for a piece of property that had been cited by Will County for numerous code violations. The deal was closed Jan. 6.

Kern pointed out that the property was appraised for only $340,000.

Wheatland’s previous governing administration had purchased property adjacent to the current headquarters at 4232 Tower Court, which also houses the Township Highway Department, with the intention of building a new headquarters there.

The plan, however, sparked an uprising among local residents concerned not only with the estimated price tag of $1.5 million for the new building, but questioning the need to move out of the 91st Street building.

At an August 2011 Town Meeting of township electors — registered voters in the township — the opposition, including current township Trustees Mike Crockett and Deb Holscher, took advantage of Illinois law that allows township electors to rule directly on real estate transactions.

By an overwhelming margin, the electors directed township officials to sell the 103rd Street property and use the proceeds to refurbish the 91st Street building.

However, Will County subsequently cited the township for enough code violations at the 91st Street property to make refurbishing the building financially unfeasible, officials said.

The board called another Town Meeting in August 2013 and again got overwhelming approval from those present to sell the 91st Street property and consolidate township operations into the Highway Department building.

The building will be renovated to accommodate, in addition to the Highway Department, the offices of the Township Supervisor, Assessor, and Clerk.

Estimates for the renovation of the Tower Court property are not expected until next week, but Kern said that he expected the estimate to be very close to the original estimate of $496,000.

As for the adjacent property that was to have been the home of a new township facility, it remains for sale.

The township had an agreement with the City of Naperville that it would have the first option for purchasing the property, but the city declined.

So the property is still for sale with an asking price of $299,000, down from the original $350,000.

“We don’t know what to expect, really,” Kern said.

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