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Wheatland Residents Reject All Plans for a New Town Hall, Vote to Do Nothing

The decision came after questions were raised about why the township could not use the newly built highway commissioner's building instead of finding new space.

Wheatland Township residents soundly rejected all plans to build or lease space for a new Wheatland Township Administration Center Tuesday night, voting instead for “Option F: Do Nothing.”

It was a question that came up near the end of the meeting -- Why can't the township supervisor and assessor use space in the $3 million highway commissioner's building? -- that prompted the group of nearly 200 to vote to take no action by a landslide.

"It couldn't have turned out better," said Mike Crockett, who was one of group of residents who spearheaded an effort to pull the plug on the township board's plans to build a new $1.5 million town hall.

Options A through E allowed those in attendance at the special meeting, held at Plainfield East High School, to choose from a range of alternatives that included building new, buying an existing building, refurbishing the current township hall and renting office space.

Township Supervisor Todd Morse and Trustee Doug Haddad did not attend the meeting. Morse's wife Brenda did attend, and raised questions about the legality of the proceedings.

The groundswell to take no action began when Naperville resident Brian Blazina proposed the township sell the land at 103rd Street near Route 59, on which the new building was to have been built, and use the proceeds to update the existing facility.

His suggestion came after resident Katherine Havel and others questioned why the township could not share the facility the township highway department built three years ago on the same site as where the new town hall building was to be built.

The group had no ability to mandate that action, however, because the township and the highway department are two separate taxing bodies.

Residents from Plainfield, Naperville and unincorporated areas cast their votes by gathering near signs that represented their choice.

At the end of the night, 27 favored buying a building at 3420 Lacrosse Lane in Naperville, seven wanted to lease office space, two supported building a 3,800-square-foot center and more than 150 voted to "do nothing."

No one voted to retrofit the current town hall or to build the 7,300-square-foot building on 103rd Street, which had been approved by the township board.

Ben Nurczyk, of Naperville, said the board's plan was inappropriate given the current state of the economy.

"If I went in and told my boss I’d like a better building to work in, what do you think he’d say?" Nurczyk said.

“I think the township officials need to understand how bad things are,” he said. “Houses are being boarded up, people are losing their homes. People are losing their homes. They need to do what mom and pop are doing right now and make do with what they have.”

A space analysis committee made up of residents Crockett, Deb Holscher and Rick Peabody and township board members Joe Hudetz and Frank King spent the summer evaluating the pros and cons of all of the options. Although Crockett supported buying the building on Lacrosse Lane, he said he was pleased by how the vote went.

“I wish these people would show up at every government meeting,” Crockett said.

Holscher agreed. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “The big message is ‘We’re watching.”

Holscher and Crockett were among those who first sought to stop plans for the $1.5 million building at the annual April town hall meeting. The movement grew from there, with residents seizing the opportunity to let the public decide the issue by using a state law that once a year lets registered voters cast ballots on issues at the town hall meeting.

Holscher said the decision to table any action until the two-acre parcel on 103rd Street is sold may give residents time to revisit alternatives that until now were deemed off the table, such as having township government share space with the highway department. The space study committee estimates the site may be worth about $350,000.

Or they could use the money from the sale to retrofit the existing town hall building. An estimate obtained by the space committee from JG Rock Construction of Naperville said it would cost about $700,000 remodel the current township building on 91st Street, which was built in 1977 as a machine garage.

Peabody had doubts about remodeling the existing building, citing problems with safety and meeting building codes.

“Putting any more money into that building is putting lipstick on a pig,” he said.

King, who also favored the new building, left the room shortly after “Option F” was added to the ballot.

Brenda Morse posed a series of questions about the legality of the meeting and whether the voters’ resolution would be binding.

“Not only is it authorized, it is a model” said Chicago attorney Doug Ibendahl, who provided legal counsel for the proceedings.

“I hope this will set an example for taxpayers all over the state,” he said.

What happened Tuesday night is the thing he loves about township government, Blazina said.

“That we were able to make a change on the spot is wonderful,” he said. “The great thing about township government is that electors do have a say, we can make a change.”

my conscience August 10, 2011 at 12:25 PM
"Township Supervisor Todd Morse and Trustee Doug Haddad did not attend the meeting." Normallay Todd and Doug always attend meetings. I am sure they were doing what was best for the Wheatland Township Government.
R. Paxson August 10, 2011 at 02:05 PM
As a result of this action, what will become of the hundred of thousands of tax dollars that was collected over the years to fund that building project?
ja mee August 10, 2011 at 02:26 PM
No worries... they can come and share our HUGE new Plainfield Township building if they need office space!
Lisa S. August 10, 2011 at 02:38 PM
1.5 MILLION dollars was collected for the new building. People should be aware that these monies will need to be addressed and attend future meetings so we don't end up back in the same boat again.
John Public August 10, 2011 at 04:26 PM
I thought this was a Wisconsin Democrat technique, to run and hide, instead of being present to earn your paycheck? If they don't want to hear what the people who pay their salaries have to say, they should resign!
mario August 10, 2011 at 05:27 PM
I think that it is important that we also look into the welfare of the people working in a moldy building that continue to work for the township. If someone gets sick and sues for an unsafe environment. Has OSHA been alerted.
Jane August 10, 2011 at 07:20 PM
The people who went to that meeting DO NOT REALIZE what they just did: and that's because they are looking at the Federal Government and State government with anger on taxes. Let's see what they are angry about: Local government that has $1.5 million from properly saving their funds AFTER they got permission at a township meeting from voters, AND are building a new building 1) without raising taxes and 2) NOT borrowing money to build 3) has plans to build something that's smaller than other township blds. This group of 'angry tea patriot' did what they did for their own limelight and PR: not for good government. What a joke: they end up with a vote that HAS never even been publicized :) this was Mike Crockett's and Deb's "fool em' game: AT NO point did this committee even discuss an option to "sell land" dahhhhhh ---- c'mon guys, do you really have to 'trick' people in the public: I'd have more respect if they would have been honest from the get go. I have seen some bait and switches before: but this one takes the cake!
Lisa S. August 10, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Oh Jane...just because you CAN do something does not mean you should. Just because neighboring townships have bigger and better buildings doesn't mean we need one too. Look at the ecomony, look at actual space needed, and explain how anyone can justify 7-8k square feet being 'neccesary'. Who's trying to 'fool 'em? Less than 20 people voted to allow this building a number of years ago. And 200 people yesterday said no. Resoundingly, overwhelmingly, no. (And I don't recall there being a requirement to be an 'angry tea patriot' ion order to attend or to vote. )
Lisa S. August 10, 2011 at 07:51 PM
Last evening it was reported that there is no documentation of mold and that no OSHA violations had been reported.
John Public August 10, 2011 at 09:34 PM
I think the real issue here is the tax payers are fed up with governmental bodies wasting our money! The people that work for the township should be glad that they are employed, not complaining about their building. We the taxpayers are all making sacrifices because of the state of the economy, why should we be further burdened with a bill for an unnecessary new building? The monies allocated for the new building should be refunded to tax payers.
my conscience August 11, 2011 at 01:43 AM
John, what you say makes some sense. But I would settle for a minor lowering of the property tax rate if my Township is collecting more money than it needs. I agree with the voters that the Township should collect only enough money needed to provide the three basic services required by Illinois law: 1) Provide general assistance to qualifying destitute residents, 2) property assessment, and 3) maintenance of township roads and bridges. That's all we (the people) want. As now demonstrated, most people do not want the Supervisor inventing new services or building a community center. Instead, we would like to keep a little bit more of our own money and use it ourselves. Todd and Brenda Morse may not agree with that -- but according to an informal survey I think that is the opinion of about 90% of the voters in Wheatland Township.
Jane August 11, 2011 at 03:27 AM
Todd & Brenda Morse are nice people: they are honest, hardworking and forthright. What you see is what you get. However, with the Deb H and MIke C's of the world, they did A WONDERFUL bait and switch: "oh, we are going to give the people their choices" --- THEN BANG: "WE are the ANTI government spend no money" people that will not even disclose what we'll vote ON until the night of the vote? --- they should be ashamed!
Mike Crockett August 11, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Jane, are you really Brenda? You sure sound like her. Sour grapes and all. What is sad is that you can't accept what the large majority of those present voted for in a transparent process. This wasn't 18-20 people that voted in 2004 and in 2010. This was 160+ on April 12th, over 200 on May 23rd and 200+ last night. The evidence of an electorate that is dissatisfied with its Township officials is overwhelming. You should accept that and move on. The people spoke,
mario August 12, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Sometimes you think you know people but then give them power and they not tne people you grew up with. An old wise man said, with power comes great responsibility. Some people unfortunately are guided by their own self interests.
Owen Wavrinek August 12, 2011 at 04:43 AM
I'd like to caution those of you who are incorporated residents of Naperville and who favor the abolishment of township government. My caution is to be careful what you wish for. I certainly understand why you don't like paying taxes to Wheatland Twp., because you get most if not all of the services offered by townships such as Wheatland from the City of Naperville. However, those people who are unincorporated residents need such services, too. But unfortunately, many of the services routinely provided to residents of neighboring DuPage, Naperville, and Plainfield Townships are not available to unincorporated Wheatland residents. If townships are abolished, the options are to incorporate (which is currently an economic impossibility for most folks) or to depend on Will County to provide these services (which wouldn't happen on a timely basis, especially during emergencies). Also, if you support abolishing townships, consider that there is no vehicle such as the annual town meeting that enables voters to reverse decisions being made by the City of Naperville and/or Will County. While you are worried about $1.5 million that was set aside for the a new Wheatland admin building, officials of Naperville, Bolingbrook, Will County are preparing to spend $35 million on an unnecessary bridge that will extend 95th Street across the DuPage River to King Rd. in Bolingbrook. For more info, please go to meeting 6-8 p.m., Mon. Aug. 15 at 95th St. Library and see Naperville website.
Jane August 12, 2011 at 04:53 AM
DOES ANYONE KNOW THERE WAS A 2ND MEETING WITH 50 OR SO PEOPLE IN 2010 THAT HAD A VOTE TO BUY A BUILDING? i ONLY HEARE ABOUT THE 204 VOTE. ASK YOURSELF WITH DEB AND MIKE WITHHELD THAT INFORMATION.... AND YOU'LL SEE HOW DECEPTION WORKS. ASK YOURSELF WHY KARL AND JOE LEFT IT OUT....?
my conscience August 12, 2011 at 09:50 AM
Owen, when you say "most if not all of the services offered by townships such as Wheatland ", what services are you talking about?
Mike Crockett August 12, 2011 at 10:47 AM
Owen, don't forget to add up all the pensions we are paying at the township level in the State of Illinois, for the over 1300 townships. It is another source adding to the unfunded pension liability of 85 billion and counting. You only see the municipal portion of that which shows up in our tax bills. You don't see the rest if it which, to a very large part, responsible for that 67% income tax increase. Illinois still has over 2000 more taxing bodies than the closest State, PA. There are many example of waste. The bridge you mention could well be one of them. Perhaps that $17 million fire station in Plainfield was too. You certainly know where I stand on the money spent for a third HS in D204. For those of you who haven't read it: http://winsome.cnchost.com/MAC/D204_Summary_document.pdf $1.5million for a new Township building might be a small example of taxpayer money that could be spent better else well, but tell that to the electors who showed up at the meeting Tuesday night. By the way, I'll take a look at that Bridge.
Mike Crockett August 12, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Brenda, that vote in September of 2010 was 34 electors. 19 against the Macom purchase, 15 for. I'll get a copy of the sign in sheet and post it here. Since then, we have had meeting of over 160, over 200 and Tuesday night was close to 200. I would say if you brought in all the households in Wheatland Township to vote the margin voting against the Taj Mahal would only grow. Why don't we put a referendum on the ballot at the next election and see what people think?
Owen Wavrinek August 12, 2011 at 03:43 PM
My Conscience, one major service provided by Naperville as opposed to Wheatland Township is the care of roads and drainage problems in incorporated areas. Unincorporated residents depend on the township, you get the job done by the city. Also, there are a lot of services available to seniors and youths that are provided by neighboring townships and Naperville -- which are not available to Wheatland residents. I don't mean to ignore those services that are provided by Wheatland, because they are making progress. For example, a simple thing like the township website was less than awful for years, but has been vastly improved and is now user friendly and informative. I suggest that you visit the websites for Naperville, DuPage and Plainfield townships -- and better yet -- visit their facilities. There is a big difference when compared to Wheatland. Although I agree that you don't need lavish bricks and mortar to provide the services.
Owen Wavrinek August 12, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Mike, Illinois has never been very good at learning from the examples of good government provided by other states. I've always been a believer in benchmarking, but every decision made in Springfield and Washington ends up in the quicksand of political rhetoric. We need more Darlene Sengers and Judy Biggerts, who usually are at least willing to listen to both sides of various issues. With regard to the pensions, I hear you. But someone has to provide the services provided by townships, which are really needed (but should be consolidated) in central and southern Illinois. With regard to Metea Valley H.S., you need to visit the building and talk to the kids, the staff, and parents -- but instead of debating that again here, let's agree to disagree (in perpetuity). Remember, you are talking to someone who has devoted much of his life to community service -- without compensation, pensions, or under-the-table deal making (which is still far too prevalent nationwide). Although I've paid a lot of tax money over the years to help educate the children of our communities (despite having no children of my own), I have always viewed this as my responsibility. The kids are our future and seem to have a better understanding of "we're all in this together." The same concept should apply to the taxes paid for services provided by townships as opposed to incorporated municipalities. Unincorporated residents also help pay for schools/education and shop in local stores and restaurants.
my conscience August 12, 2011 at 09:59 PM
Owen, thanks for the clarification. I agree with a lot of your points. I enjoyed reading your conversation with Mike. You and he seem to have an analytical handle on this subject. And Mike, if everyone had your energy and enthusiasm towards good government we would all be better off. Thanks for your efforts on this. You seem to have gained a majority of support; in fact it seems almost unanimous on the Patch message board except for one particular individual. And that one person seems disproportionately shaken up over the turn of events at Wheatland Township. I was trying to figure out why she seems so angry, but then re-reading the postings from this individual it occurred to me that there might actually be two separate people using the pseudonym "Jane". One “Jane” appears to have a somewhat better grasp of composition and English writing than the other “Jane”. Maybe it is just a coincidence that there are two "Janes" with a similar frantic viewpoint (but in that case one or the other “Jane” surely would have made mention of it). Maybe it is a single person that lapses into and out-of some kind of odd mental state? Or maybe it is two people sharing the same computer, neither of whom is actually named “Jane”. Anyway Mike, you have a pretty tough skin to put up with this badgering from one (or two) critics.
Eunoia August 13, 2011 at 09:37 PM
tood morse threatened people at a restaurant in plainfield in 2010 . he acted strangely agitated at the coffee shop of the wife of the former Mayor of Plainfield - I've read the Police Report that is on file with the Plainfield Police Dept. where this poor woman had to call the Police about Morse's verbal threats ( report) sad man...
Eunoia August 13, 2011 at 09:41 PM
I Like MIKE :)

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