News Local/State

With Dissolution Vote Nullified, Rantoul Park Board President Looks To The Future

A view of the Rantoul Park District's Brookhill Golf Course.

A view of the Rantoul Park District's Brookhill Golf Course. Mounting losses at the golf course led to a referendum vote to dissolve the park district, which was later nullified in court, following a lawsuit challenging the vote's validity. Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

The Rantoul Park Board will discuss plans for its future at next meeting --- the first since a judge nullified a referendum vote to dissolve the park district.

Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis signed an order on December 28th, throwing out the result from the November 8th referendum vote. The order came after referendum backers conceded to charges in a civil suit that the referendum was filed improperly. Had the vote been upheld, park district facilities would have been transferred to Rantoul’s village government.

Even though that transfer won’t be happening, Rantoul Park Board President Gary Hardin says he’d like to see the park district working more closely with the village’s Parks and Recreation Department in the future. He says he hopes park board members will discuss a variety of options at their January meeting.

“Does the Park District let the Rec Department have the parks, because they use them anyway for baseball and softball and things like that?” asked Hardin, as he listed some of the factors to consider. “Would it save the Park District money? Would it be more efficient to work it that way?”

Hardin says the Rantoul Park Board will discuss the future of its facilities at its next meeting at 7 P.M., Thursday, January 19th at the Rantoul Business Center.

The Rantoul Park District oversees five parks, including the Brookhill Golf Course north of town, where mounting costs and declining revenues have caused it to take up much of the district’s tax funds. The golf course and is financial problems were target of the organizers of last November’s referendum. They had hoped that transferring the golf course to village ownership would lead to its closure or sale. However, a covenant dating back to the federal grant used by the park district to obtain land for the golf course requires that the site be kept open as a public park, although not necessarily a golf golf.

Hardin says he thinks Brookhill should remain a golf course. He says despite its expense, Brookhill Golf Course is a community asset with many supporters in and around Rantoul. And he notes that despite the November referendum, the sale of passes to use Brookhill Golf Course in 2017 are at about the same level as previous years.