Marengo Park District plans to go to referendum in 2024 to expand boundaries

Park board missed deadline for April ballot

Marengo Park District Board President Marty Mohr updated members of the Marengo-Union Chamber of Commerce on referendum plans at its annual breakfast held Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at the park district.

The Marengo Park District will not be able to put a boundary expansion referendum question to voters until March 2024, board president Marty Mohr said.

At the board’s regular Jan. 19 meeting, a public hearing and vote were planned to send a referendum to voters in Marengo, Seneca, Coral and Riley townships. That referendum would ask voters if they should be annexed into the park district, park district director Dan Bertrand has said.

The board learned a week before the meeting that state law requires a vote by Jan. 17 for placement on the April 4 ballot.

Instead, Mohr said Thursday at the annual Marengo-Union Chamber of Commerce breakfast, those questions will not appear on ballots until the spring 2024 primaries.

The goal “is to annex the four townships that include the city of Marengo, and closely align with the Marengo-Union Library District,” Mohr said.

Expanding the park district’s boundaries can help those residents with existing and expanding parks and “generate more tax revenue and taxes on a bigger area” for programs and services, he said.

He is not worried about delaying a vote, Mohr said following the chamber event.

“It gives us more time to plan and get the word out,” he said.

Four referendum questions are planned with one in each of the four townships. Because of the number of votes needed, that may have to be split into two elections: the March 24 primary election and the November 2024 general elections.

The park district attorney is checking a regulation that suggests there may be a limit to the number of referenda a public body can run at one time, necessitating the split, Mohr said.

He also provided an update at the Thursday breakfast to other things going on in the park district, including plans to redevelop the former pool into the Venue in the Park.

In 2022, he said, key fob entrances were added to the Fitness Center at 825 Indian Oaks Trail, allowing access to the building 24 hours a day. Since that change, the facility has gone from 65 members to 300.

“For the first time, it is sustaining itself,” Mohr said.