DuPage forest preserve looking to buy land

A homeowner who has lived for decades next to Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve has agreed to sell his land to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Forest preserve commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday to pay Joseph Cejka $360,000 to acquire his property along Main Street, west of Winfield Road, in Warrenville. If the deal is approved, the roughly 2.1-acre site will be added to the southeastern corner of the roughly 125-acre Warrenville Grove preserve.

Kevin Stough, the forest preserve’s manager of land preservation, said the district wants to buy the property because it has “some great natural resources,” including many large oak trees and underground springs.

“Warrenville Grove is one of our very popular forest preserves,” he said. “This adds to the existing natural resources in Warrenville Grove.”

Board action to acquire the land will come during a Tuesday meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. at the district headquarters, 3S580 Naperville Road, Wheaton.

If the sale is approved, the district will close on the property at the end of the month.

As part of the deal, Cejka will be allowed to stay in his home until he dies or moves out. He won’t be charged rent but must continue to pay the property taxes and maintain the site.

“It’s our understanding that the owner has lived on the property for well over 30 years,” Stough said.

When Cejka is no longer living on the property, the forest preserve will take possession. It then will demolish the house and an unattached garage. A chicken coop, small trailer, and partially underground cellar also will be removed.

Officials said the public will benefit from the land being preserved as open space.

“The West Branch (of the DuPage River) is literally a few hundred feet to the west,” Stough said. “There’s a trail closer to the river. This will provide additional natural resources and a little bit of a buffer from the houses that are over on Winfield Road.”