FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — Jody Cross is upset. She and hundreds of others feel the decision the Freeport Park District is making to demolish the historic Oakdale Tabernacle at Oakdale Nature Preserve is a bad decision for the community.
She isn’t alone either. Over 49% of the community share her views.
That’s according to the results of a November 2018 question proposed to voters inside the Freeport city limits, who were asked if they wanted to spend up to 1.3 million to preserve the Tabernacle at Oakdale Nature preserve.
But Jody wonders if the Park District board has been lying to everyone.
In a note she wrote on a public group Facebook page , Jody said she wants to know more about the $400K grant the Park District had filled out last August, and says she doesn’t think the public is getting all the information.
“On Friday, January 17th, we learned the Park District had filled out a grant last August for $400K that our district would match”, Jody wrote on the Friends of the Freeport Park District group page.
“On January 7th in the dead of winter, right after the holidays, 60 people showed up at the Board meeting. They gave an hour and 20 minutes of public comment pleading with the Board to keep the Tabernacle.” But the board voted 3-2 in favor of demolishing the historic structure anyway.
“The Oakdale Tabernacle is the only enclosed Tabernacle in existence in Illinois that is structurally sound”, Jody said of the structure. After the January 7th board meeting, given the board’s decision to destroy history, she says a core group of people decided to make the Park District an offer.
“We offered to start a non-profit and allow us 90 days to put money together to either purchase the Tabernacle, move the Tabernacle, or buy the 27 acres or the whole Preserve”, Jody wrote. She said that’s when they learned of the $400K grant the park district had applied for.
“According to notes taken at that meeting, the grant was to upgrade ADA and other trails, put in 4 bridges, improve the parking lot and for a new shelter.” Jody thinks this is what the board has wanted all along, and says she feels some never wanted to save the Oakdale Tabernacle in the first place. She doesn’t think the public had a fair say. Either way she says, “this is what happens when the Board does not do their proper duty and discuss openly their plans”.
Demolition of the Oakdale Tabernacle is set to be discussed at the next Board meeting set for Tuesday, January 21 at 6:30 pm at the Freport Park District main office.