Kendall County Forest Preserve District Board members and the district’s executive director discussed Tuesday the possible closure of an old rest stop at the southwest corner of Route 47 and Galena Road.
Forest Preserve Executive Director David Guritz has proposed allowing only authorized county vehicles, such as Highway Department snowplows, to enter the area. The proposal includes the removal of asphalt and reconfiguring the area’s two entrances to just one entrance.
Guritz said the most common use of the rest area is for truck drivers, who pull into it and use it to rest overnight and during the day.
However, during Tuesday’s discussion, board member John Purcell said he would rather the area stay open. He said he would rather have truck drivers park there and rest instead of driving tired on the roadways.
Guritz said the Forest Preserve District doesn’t allow overnight parking on any of its other properties. He also questioned the benefit of keeping the area open as another property for forest preserve staff to maintain.
“We don’t allow semis to come into forest preserve areas,” he said. “It’s a real question for me of what the benefit is of this particular area in terms of public use, other than pulling off and us having another area to maintain when we’re struggling just keeping up with basic needs.”
Guritz said the closure “seems like a win-win from the standpoint of public safety, enforcement, and utility.”
“There are plenty of forest preserve areas that the public can enjoy,” he said. “This five-acre parcel I really don’t think adds value or benefit to the residents of Kendall County.”
During the discussion, board member Bob “H.D.” Davidson insisted that the property is owned not by the Forest Preserve District, but by Kendall County.
“This property belongs to the county, not the forest preserve,” Davidson said.
Guritz said after the meeting that he understood the state of Illinois conveyed the property via quit claim deed following the Illinois Department of Transportation’s closure of the rest stop in 1984. He said records confirming the transfer of ownership were still being researched.
Board President Judy Gilmour asked about the project’s cost. Guritz said the cost would largely be absorbed by the county Highway Department.
Board member Matt Kellogg said he would like the issue to come before the County Board’s Highway Committee, as the closure would use Highway Department dollars. Kellogg is the Highway Committee chairman.
County Engineer Fran Klaas said he doesn’t know the cost of such a project, but said the department is interested in keeping the parcel for a turnaround area for snowplow trucks.
The board voted to table, or postpone, the issue and the County Board’s Highway Committee can take it up at a future meeting.
Purcell, Gilmour, Kellogg, Davidson, Scott Gryder and Lynn Cullick voted to table, while Elizabeth Flowers voted against it. Board members Audra Hendrix and Tony Giles were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.