The Naperville Park District is now taking sides in the controversy over whether to support public use of the DuPage River. At Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners passed a resolution in favor of public river access.
The park board’s decision allows officials to join a growing list of state lawmakers pushing for clarification about the river’s status.
How It Started
Over the past month, controversy surfaced over complaints made to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) calling for a pause to public access to the river to allow time for an investigation into concerns about people trespassing and leaving trash.
The DuPage River, according to state river laws, is not listed as a public waterway, which adds confusion for many who use the waterway for recreation regularly and has motivated some people to sign a petition in support of public river access. As of Thursday night, it has more than 10,800 signatures.
The park board originally discussed the topic last month, when former state Rep. Grant Wehrli urged the commissioners to consider passing a resolution.
During Thursday’s meeting, two people took time to submit public comments on this topic.
Among the statements read aloud was a submission from Ralph Osuch, a Plainfield resident who started the online petition in support of public access to the DuPage River.
It reads, in part, “it would be a tragedy if the IDNR or whoever it is that has the ultimate decision on whether the public can use the river would declare it unusable.”
Ultimately, the park board decided to pass a resolution in support of public river use.
It reads, in part, “whereas, Illinois statutes and administrative regulations grant jurisdiction over public bodies of water to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), but those same statutes and administrative regulations exempt from that jurisdiction of IDNR all ‘normal and lawful’ uses of a public body of water.”
The resolution also states, “whereas, any attempt by the IDNR to prohibit, restrict or otherwise regulate normal and lawful recreational activities on the DuPage River would be contrary to Illinois law as outside of the jurisdiction of IDNR.”
Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.
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