Chicago Symphony Orchestra seeking DuPage County outdoor venue

The CSO wants a permanent outdoor site in DuPage County but is having a hard time securing one of the four possible locations:

But two of those sites are on land owned by the DuPage Forest Preserve District and that will pose legal problems for those hoping to build an outdoor concert venue here.The district’s attorney, Jim Knippen, has researched the question and determined the forest preserve commission doesn’t have the legal authority to lease its land to a private entity for a private purpose. If commissioners want to pursue such an agreement, Knippen said, they will have to pursue changes to state law…

Pierotti said he met several months ago with representatives from the CSO and Choose DuPage, the county’s public-private economic development group. He then assigned forest preserve Commissioner Tim Whelan to participate in the discussions because the Danada Forest Preserve was the first district-owned site the CSO considered. Danada is located in Wheaton, which is part of the area Whelan represents…

During subsequent meetings, other district-owned sites were examined, including Hidden Lake near Downers Grove and St. James Farm near Warrenville.

I would guess this deal gets done, even if it takes some time to go through the state and get an exemption. While the Forest Preserve might be about conserving open land, an economic opportunity like this would be too hard for everyone to pass up. DuPage County, the most populous collar county and home to lots of jobs, would love to have such a permanent cultural presence. The CSO would love to have easier access to wealthier people in DuPage County. I imagine there would be some spillover sales tax dollars for nearby restaurants and stores. Additionally, the DuPage County Forest Preserve could probably easily spare the at least 40 acres required as the Forest Preserve was quite aggressive after World War II in securing land before the county was completely suburbanized.

One note: the three Forest Preserve sites mention in this article are all within a ten minute drive of I-88, providing easy highway access. The Danada site which appears to be in the running is a relatively undeveloped area between Wheaton and Naperville that could end up being quite scenic as well as have easy access to some major roads (I-88, Butterfield Road, Naperville Road).

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