La Salle County will maintain control of Catlin and Shabbona parks.
Thursday, the La Salle County Board voted unanimously to continue operating the two parks, ending a weeks-long discussion of halting oversight – and trimming $122,000 from the budget – that drew pushback from the public.
The county maintains Catlin Park, at 2650th E. 1251st Road between Ottawa and Utica, and Shabbona Park, on East 16th Road, north of Harding. Earlier this year, the possibility of relinquishing control of the parks was floated in committee meetings but any support of savings were quickly drowned by protests.
Thursday, Ottawa businessman Ed Bertrand appeared before the full board and called the closures “short-sighted” and urged the county to seek volunteer input from the community.
“Once they’re gone,” Bertrand warned, “they’re gone for good.”
Board member Randy Freeman (R-Lostant) said he received more email opposing the park closures than on any previous topic he could recall. He personally opposed the closures, as well.
“They’re part of our history. They’re part of us. They’re part of our history,” he said.
Board member Arratta Znaniecki (R-Ottawa) said she, too, was swamped with protests and said she opposed shuttering Shabbona park – “This park is simply too valuable to close” – as well as Catlin, which may revert back to the Catlin family as a private holding if the county had acted to relinquish its control.
“Sincerely, I think you made the right choice,” County Board Chairman Don Jensen (R-Deer Park) said after the conclusive vote. “Thank you.”