Bensenville Park District close to acquiring Fischer Farm
The Bensenville Park District is on the verge of acquiring the historic Fischer Farm in Bensenville from the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.
This week, the park district's five-member board of commissioners unanimously agreed to offer $100,000 to buy the 5-acre farm. The forest preserve's board of commissioners will vote on the sale on Tuesday.
"This actually has been going on -- the negotiations -- for the past three to four years," said Bensenville Park District executive director Joseph C. Vallez.
The park district has been managing Fischer Farm since 2000 under a 25-year lease agreement with the forest preserve, which acquired the property along Old Grand Avenue at Fischer Woods Forest Preserve in 1999. It is believed to be one of the oldest remaining homesteads in the county, with several restored historic structures, including a log house built in 1836 and a farmhouse circa 1919.
"As a partner in government, the park district stepped up back (in 2000) and expressed an interest in preserving some of the historic buildings and putting their time, energy and resources into programming there," said Ed Stevenson, the forest preserve district's executive adviser.
Whenever the park district wanted to make Fischer Farm improvements, like in 2016, it had to get permission from the forest preserve in a tenant-landlord arrangement. But with the end of the lease on the horizon, the sale made sense to both parties.
But the forest preserve has built in a conservation easement with contractual restrictions in the sale to ensure that Fischer Farm remains a historic farmstead into perpetuity. At a forest preserve meeting on Tuesday, June 14, land preservation manager Kevin Stough outlined the stipulations for the Bensenville Park District should it choose to develop the site:
• No new play equipment or ball fields can be built on the site.
• Any potential visitors center would be limited to 3,000 square feet, while an open pavilion would be limited to 625 square feet
• Any additional parking lot would be limited to 50 spaces, and an ADA-accessible restroom building would be limited to 220 square feet.
• Should the Bensenville Park District choose to sell Fischer Farm, it must give the forest preserve the first right of refusal at a $100,000 purchase price.
• Total or partial destruction of structures on site can only be rebuilt in existing architectural designs, materials and usage.
• No gambling or gaming will be allowed on site.
Stevenson said that with Fischer Farm in possession of Bensenville Park District, it might have a stronger position in pursuing improvement grants as owners rather than tenants.
"We wanted to make it more official since the park district has put some money into the facility and making improvements," Vallez said. "We want to preserve this valuable space and properties for the community for many years to come."