Laws to dissolve Colona Park District are “muddy at best”

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Voters in Colona, Illinois voted to dissolve the town's Park District in last week's elections, leaving many questions unanswered.

The Park District and its volunteer board were established ten years ago for the sole purpose of planning a new community center. The board established a $2.5 million grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help pay for the $4.5 million dollar project.

It's a plan that struggled to gain support from the community and put the Park District's future on the ballot.

"I can tell you that a lot of people in town were really fighting against it. They wanted it to go away and were worried about the ideas the Park District had," said Allison Franklin, who owns Franklin's Barber Shop in Colona.

Now that the voters opted to get rid of the Park District, there is money and property that falls into question.

The $2.5 million dollar grant will have to go back to the Illinois DNR, but as far as Gallerts Park and everything else included in the Park District, there is some confusion.

"The law on this is muddy at best," said Mary Helstrom, the Park District Board Secretary. "It's not real clear on who even gets our records because I would imagine somebody's got to keep our records for tax purposes."

"The property at Gallerts Park, if you read [the law] one way it sounds like it goes to the city, if you read it another way it sounds like it needs to go to auction and then the profit be split up between the four schools that are in our district," Helstrom said.

Helstrom said they have hired a lawyer to help determine what happens to everything associated with the Park District.