On November 6, residents of the Peoria Park District will be asked to vote on the following question:
Shall the Pleasure Driveway and Park District of Peoria sell the following real estate: “Racoon Lakes”, a 123.5 acre parcel in Hollis Township, Peoria County, PIN 20-08-400-009 and 20-08-200-019, west of Cameron Lane, north of McCullough Road and east of Stranz Road?
To better understand the question, please consider the following:
What is Racoon Lakes?
Racoon Lakes is a 123.5 acre park located in Hollis Township, Illinois. It lies outside of the Peoria Park District’s boundaries and is located approximately 4.5 miles southwest of the Peoria Airport and 9.2 miles southwest of Bradley Park. The parcel was purchased by the Peoria Park District in 1965 using funding provided under Title VII of the Housing Act of 1961. The park was used for camping, fishing, snowmobiling, hiking and summer camps from 1966 to 1992. From 1992 to present (26 years), it has been vacant or rented for private group use only.
As part of the Peoria Park District’s strategic planning process focused on developing long-term stability, the Board of Trustees and staff are working together to figure out how to provide services and support that has the greatest impact. The Peoria Park District always has been and always will be responsible stewards of park land for the community. It was through careful consideration and an objective analysis that the Peoria Park District requests from voters the authority to sell the parcel. Using consistent criteria across each of our holdings (which total nearly 9,000 acres in our region!), the District recommends sale of Racoon Lakes based on the following criteria:
-History: Since its acquisition, this parcel has not been consistently used for public enjoyment. It has not been used by the public at all since 1992.
-Location: The parcel is located well outside the Peoria Park District boundaries and is surrounded by residential neighborhoods on three sides. Historically, the neighbors in the area have voiced strong opposition to public use of the site and the associated traffic that comes with that use.
-Condition: The parcel has been minimally maintained by the current private group that rents it. Significant capital would be required to make it usable for a public purpose. In addition, Peoria County would require a new entrance if a public use was implemented. Further, the parcel contains no significant
ecological value and is not home to any known endangered species or plant types.
-Benefit to the Public: With no identifiable public need for the parcel by the Peoria Park District, and based on the analysis of this parcel, staff asserts that it is unique in its characteristics and recommends that the process to sell the land by referendum commence.
How will the sale of Racoon Lakes help with sustainability?
Proceeds from the sale of the parcel will be divided between the District’s operating fund to help move the District out of a negative reserve position in its museum fund, which funds its environmental facilities, and to a legacy fund established by the District to support the long-term care and maintenance of parks and trails in the Peoria Park District. For these reasons, a vote YES is a vote for sustainability.