Marengo Park District eyes referendum to bring in residents across four townships

Hearing date up in air after learning final approval date is two days before under state law

Marengo Park District, 825 Indian Oaks Trail in Marengo.

The Marengo Park District board was on track to ask voters in four townships this April if they want eto be annexed to the district.

A public hearing and vote was set for the board’s Jan. 19 regular meeting, but that date is now in limbo because state law requires public bodies to adopt a resolution or ordinance to place a referendum question on the ballot no later than Jan. 17.

No date has been determined for a public hearing or vote, Marengo Park District Director Dan Bertrand said Friday, adding that he was waiting to hear from the park district’s attorney before moving forward.

Bertrand learned this week of the deadline.

Once a public body has voted to go to a referendum, it has until Jan. 26 to certify that question to the county clerk, McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said.

Legal ads placed in the Northwest Herald on Dec. 19 notified residents of the meeting and annexation vote, including which parcels would be included in a potential annexation.

The affected parcels fall in Marengo, Seneca, Coral and Riley townships, Bertrand said. Currently, the park district’s boundaries mirror that of the city of Marengo.

However, “35% to 40% of our users don’t live in the city limits of Marengo,” Bertrand said.

Although users outside the district boundaries are charged slightly higher user fees, the board also is considering whether to increase out-of-district fees to be more in line with what other districts charge nonresidents, Bertrand said.

If approved by the board and then by voters, the new boundaries would match those of the Marengo-Union Library District, Bertrand said.

Bertrand noted the library district also closely mirrors Marengo High School District 154.

Voters in each of the townships would have a separate question on their April 4 ballot if the referendum goes forward, Bertrand said. That way, if voters in one township turned down the question and another approved the question, one would not cancel out another.

Small segments of some of the townships in question are served by the Huntley Park District or Woodstock Recreation Department, Bertrand said. Those properties would not be included in the annexation request.

If the board chooses to go forward with a referendum, more information will be coming for those affected voters, he said.

“If we proceed, we will be open and transparent about the whole thing,” Bertrand said.