The has been awarded a $542,200 grant to purchase 108 acres of land in the Kendall County portion of the district.
The Open Space Land Aquisition and Development grant, administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will allow the district to buy what will be the third largest parcel in the district, behind Pilcher and parks, said Debbie Greene, superintendent of Nature Center.
This is also the first time in many years that the district has purchased a large parcel of land, she said.
“The land that we are purchasing they were going to originally turn it into an environmentally friendly subdivision,” Greene said. “It was the Casey family farm.”
The farm, located at Grove and Caton Farm roads, has already begun the process of returning back to its natural state. Some years ago, the Casey family began restoring their farm, setting aside about 40 acres of it to return to natural prairie.
The grant of $542,200 is a matching grant, meaning the park district will need to come up with same amount of money.
“Now we are applying for additional grants or seeking donations in order to accept the money,” Greene said.
If the land is successfully purchased, it will be the third largest Joliet Park District property.
“At the far east and far west, we will have big parks and Inwood is smack in the middle, which is perfect,” Greene said.
This will also be the first time in many years that the district has purchased land.
"Parks have come along, and there was some acquisition at the airport, (but) I can’t remember the last time a parcel was purchased," said Dominic Egizio, the district's executive director.
In fact, within the last few years, the district sought and was granted permission to sell property.
"We got permission from the Legislature to sell the corner at Wedgewood, but it hasn’t sold yet," Egizio said.
Joliet Park Board members have been hoping for some time to aquire property on the west end of the district, Egizio said. When Inwood was built, it was on the far west of what was then the Joliet Park District property. It now lies just about in the middle of the district.
"Somebody had the foresight to be out this far west," Egizio said of Inwood.
He thinks aquisition of the Casey Farm is great for the district. Joliet Park Board President Brett Gould agreed.
"It's been something we've been hoping to get for a number of years - property out west," Gould said at the park board meeting Monday night.
The district has two years to come up with the matching grant money.