Posted on April 12, 2011 9:13 AM
Voters Approve Open Space Bond Referendum in Kane County
On Tuesday, voters in Kane County approved a $30 million open space bond referendum that will fund the acquisition of 1,500 to 2,000 additional acres of conservation land and make improvements on other lands. The results have been watched keenly not just by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, but by many others who view the referendum as a test of whether voters would take on more debt to protect open space in a down economy. Although the referendum passed with somewhat lower than typical margins, it preserves a long streak at the polls -- voters have not rejected a forest preserve or conservation district’s open space referendum in northeastern Illinois in more than a decade. In one way, the viability of the referendum may have been aided by the recession, as land is much cheaper now on a per-acre basis than during the housing boom. In fact, the Forest Preserve District of Kane County may now be able to acquire somewhat more land than it did from its 2005 referendum for less than half the price.
The Kane County referendum also helps push toward a critical goal of GO TO 2040: preserving another 150,000 acres of public open space in the next thirty years. While the Forest Preserve District of Kane County’s success is very good news, many other means of protecting land besides forest preserve and conservation district acquisitions need to be embraced. GO TO 2040 recommends a so-called “green infrastructure” approach in which many different organizations collaborate to preserve portions of a large, connected network of open space.