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May 20, 2024

AG: Wesley Twp violated Open Meetings Act in its previous decision to close camping at park

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On August 21, 2019

Wilmington, IL. (ECWd) –

As we had previously reported, Wesley Township made a decision without voting on it during a public meeting. The decision was the result of the township trustees allegedly calling the supervisor and demanding she close the township park to campers because of “issues with park patrons and police being called” – the decision was made without voting in an open public meeting.

Sometime in June of 2019 a decision was made to prohibit camping, and it was not made in a public meeting.

During the June 2019 public meeting, the supervisor stated how and why the decision was made and claimed the board had the power to act without voting to act in a public meeting. We objected and were one of there separate requests for review sent to the AG’s office.

Most all of the recent “issues” at the park were the result of one trustee attempting to pass herself off as the “Park Ranger” (a position that does not exist) and then demanding money from campers, allegedly entering their tents and stealing their campfire wood. The police would be called on the campers (who were doing nothing wrong) and this police activity is what the trustees were referring to as reason for closing the park to camping.

The AG’s Public Access Counselor reviewed the complaints, video of the June meeting, and Wesley Township’s response to the complaints and determined that Wesley Township violated the Open Meetings Act bu taking official action outside of a public meeting.

Camping has since been restored at the park, with electricity and use of the water well – all without charge (donations accepted).

Read the AG’s determination below:

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  • Pete Marwick
    Posted at 12:37h, 21 August

    Could the supervisor just shut the camping site down for public safety reasons without board approval? So if board members call on their own and voice how they feel, that constitutes a vote? Other boards should take notice of this.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 12:58h, 21 August

      No, because that would have constituted action taken outside a meeting. A twp supervisor does not have the statutory power to act outside of a meeting on something like this. And it was not a public health or safety issue, it was an issue brought on by certain trustees.