Prospect Heights Park District commissioners will meet Tuesday, Jan. 12 to discuss and possibly approve a land swap at Muir Park that would enable a controversial 69-unit townhouse development just north of the park.
Lexington Homes' plan to build the townhouses on the site of the former Jolly Fun House Academy already won preliminary approval by a 3-2 vote of Prospect Heights city aldermen.
The developer has offered to swap 0.62 acres of land from that 5.23-acre site for an equal amount of land at Muir Park, along with a $500,000 payment to the park district and $200,000 more for park improvements there.
The land exchange is needed to build a stormwater detention basin for the new development, officials said.
If park district commissioners decline the land swap, Lexington Homes has an alternate plan for 61 townhouses. That proposal is on file with the city, but has not been approved.
The park district has an easement agreement with the current property owner allowing access to Muir Park and parking on the Jolly Fun House Academy property. If the proposed land swap is denied, a new easement agreement for Muir Park would have to be negotiated with Lexington Homes, Prospect Heights Park District Executive Director Christina Ferraro said.
When the Jolly Fun House Academy closed in 2016 and the site was put up for sale, the park district and Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 met to discuss the possibility of buying it for their joint use. The purchase and renovation of the property ultimately was deemed cost prohibitive, Ferraro added.
Park district commissioners have yet to take an official position on the land swap, but in November they discussed potential designs for a reconfiguration of Muir Park provided by a consultant.
If the land swap moves forward, a community meeting will be scheduled in the spring to discuss future plans at Muir Park, Ferraro said.
The meeting on the land swap decision will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 and be accessible to the public via Zoom. Information on joining that meeting will be available on the park district's website at phparks.org/board-meetings.