Wheatland Township is going back to the voters in hopes of coming up with a permanent solution to the controversial headquarters issue.
A special town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at John F. Kennedy Middle School, 2350 S. Essington Road in Plainfield. At the meeting, the electors — registered voters in the township — will be presented with a proposal to sell the former Wheatland Township office on 91st Street in Naperville and approve an intergovernmental agreement with the township’s Road District to move the headquarters into the Road District’s facility at 4232 Tower Court in Naperville.
“The voters have to approve any real estate sale or lease,” Township Supervisor Chuck Kern.
Wheatland Township is currently leasing office space at 12337 S. Route 59, in the North Plainfield Crossing shopping complex.
Under Illinois township law, registered voters can rule directly on certain matters, real estate transactions being one of them.
The Road District building is adjacent to property purchased by the township at 103rd Street and Route 59, which was slated to be the site of the new township headquarters. But the $1.5 million price tag on the proposed facility raised the ire of community activists, who campaigned for months to block the proposal.
The group was instrumental in forcing an August 2011 vote on the matter, where the electors voted overwhelmingly to direct the township board to sell the 103rd Street property and to use the proceeds to refurbish the 91st Street facility.
But subsequent discovery of extensive code violations at the 91st Street building made that plan unworkable, so the recently-elected board — including Mike Crockett and Deb Holscher, leaders of the group protesting the plans for the $1.5 million facility — are now looking to consolidate all the township’s offices into the Highway Department building.
To consolidate the facilities into that particular facility, an intergovernmental agreement is required by law.
Kern estimated that the combined revenues from the sale of the properties on 91st Street and 103rd Street will be more than enough to transform the Township Highway Department building into a space capable of handling all township business.
And he stressed that the move to not levy taxpayers a cent next year for township services is still the plan.
It was long the position of those opposed to the proposed new facility that the township had for years been levying above what was needed to operate the township.
With plans for a completely new headquarters building dead, Kern estimates the township’s cash reserves to be in the neighborhood of $2 million, part of which will be used to give taxpayers an estimated break of from $50 to $100 on their taxes for 2014.
But everything hinges on the voters approving the proposal.
Kern hopes for a substantial turnout, and said the township is working on getting the word out to citizens, posting information on the township website, putting up notices around the area and exploring a township-wide mailing.
“We’re hoping we get a heavy turnout,” he said, but stressed that a legal quorum could be as low as 15 electors.
“I would be really disappointed,” Kern said, though, if that few residents showed up Aug. 26.