Colona School District buys controversial park

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The Colona School District is stepping up to the plate to buy Gailliaert's Park.

It will spend more than $45,000 from its penny sales tax to buy the controversial property.

That could end a long ordeal over the land.

There are emotional moments on Monday as the Colona Park District reveals nine bids for Gailliaert's Park.

"I really with all my heart and soul want it to stay," said park supporter Shirley Timbrook.

Voters in November rejected plans for a $4.5 million community center on the site.

That forced the park's sale.  The district even returned a $2.5 million state grant.

"This one is from District 190, the Colona School," said Mary Helstrom, a volunteer with the Colona Park District.

Bids ranged from $1 to the winning $45,255 bid from the Colona School District.

"We're trying to make this as nice as we can for the kids in the community," said Colona Superintendent Kyle Ganson.  "We're trying to do the programs and services that enhance what kids have in Colona."

The neighboring school might improve access to its adjacent building.

But it's also keeping a connection with the community.  It will work with Little League and other organizations that use the park.

"It's better than thinking that it could be just sitting there doing nothing," Timbrook said.  "To me, it's the most important thing in this community, to keep that park."

The four-acre park is emerging from a contentious struggle.  Colona even passed on bidding for it.

Four school districts will split the sale proceeds.

"Out of all the turmoil and troubles, I think, in the end, hopefully, it's a positive thing," concluded Helstrom.

For now, there's a future for Gailliaert's Park in Colona.