Wheaton College Opposes D41 Plan to Buy Property, Build New Hadley
Wheaton College release: District 41 has undervalued property at 1825 College Ave. in Wheaton in plans to acquire and rebuild Hadley Junior High.
Wheaton College on Tuesday announced its opposition to the Glen Ellyn School District 41 plan to acquire the college's East Campus property, 1825 College Ave., to build a new Hadley Junior High School facility.
District 41 announced the district's plan to make an offer on the property next month and the possibility of having to acquire the property by eminent domain if Wheaton College is unwilling to sell, officials told Patch last week.
District 41 Superintendent Dr. Ann Riebock said Wheaton College has indicated the property at 1825 College Ave. is not for sale in preliminary conversations. According to a news release from Wheaton College, the college has communicated with the district that selling the East Campus property is not a viable option.
The college also wrote that the District 41 designation of $3 million in reserves toward the acquisition shows a "significant undervaluation" of the 15-acre property.
"The college’s recent purchase of a nearby 5.3-acre parcel for more than $8 million suggests a value of its East Campus property in excess of $20 million."
The college also wrote the proposal to consider eminent domain is "poorly conceived."
"...The district’s proposal to attempt a forcible taking of the college’s East Campus and then sell it at some time in the future if community support cannot be obtained to build a new campus is ill-advised and unfair and, armed with the power of eminent domain, puts the College at risk of losing millions of dollars.
"The district’s newsletter informs its constituents that if it initiates an eminent domain proceeding, it can 'abandon the process at any point.' This approach shows little consideration for the College’s rights and fails to recognize the potentially high cost of such a strategy.
"...In addition to being unfair, the District’s proposal is unwise. Wheaton College has significant, unique legal protections by virtue of its Charter from the State of Illinois, as well as Federal and State religious freedom rights."
District 41 will host a public forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, in the Hadley Library Media Center to provide information about the plan before the board takes action to proceed with an offer at the April 8 meeting.
The district will hold a second forum April 25 to get community feedback and provide updates on the plan, Riebock said.