McHenry Twp. (ECWd) -
Recently, we have written about Wesley Township in Will County and their unlawful charges for use of the township park.
McHenry Township has the same problem, but on a smaller scale.
Section 120-5 of the Township Code states that the township park "shall be set apart and forever held and maintained and improved as public parks for the free use of the public."
The words "free" and "public" have meaning in this statute: they mean just what they say; the park is free for the public (notice it does not mention residents vs nonresidents, nor security deposits).
With that being said, McHenry Township's collection of unlawful payments for nonresidents to use its pavilion in the township park violates the township code and must be discontinued.
Additionally, the provisions permitting the township to keep some of the "deposits" for pavilion reservations could be considered unlawful, as could the collection of deposits to reserve the pavilion. After all, if it is free, then deposits cannot be charged. All it does is keep the not so fortunate people from using the pavilion if they cannot afford the $100 deposit fee.
We suggest the township reconsider this fee/deposit arrangement in the near future and discontinue them.
The Township discussed this issue during its August 8, 2019 board meeting (video below).
McHenry is using the same false thought process as Wesley Township is using. Yes, they can charge for "recreation and educational "programs" - but using a pavilion is not a recreation "program" and is not an educational "program" sponsored or conducted by the township.