Belleville Jaycees hope to finally get their wish of having a park entirely in the city of Belleville.
Ten acres of the Jaycee Park is located in the village of Swansea.
However, the Swansea Village Board voted last month to disconnect Jaycee Park from the village, which will allow Belleville to annex the three parcels of land, which are owned by Belleville and the Jaycees. The park at 750 W. H St. has about 17 acres total.
Swansea Mayor Jim Rauckman said disconnecting from the park has no negative impact on the village as no income is derived from the park.
"For the good of the citizens whether they live in Belleville or Swansea, it's better that it's been done this way," Rauckman said, noting the village should have allowed Belleville to annex the park before now.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert previously said the city and Swansea have discussed annexation for at least the past 12 years, but never reached an agreement.
The park annexation took a step forward Wednesday when it was approved by the Belleville City Council's Economic and Development and Annexation Committee. The annexation must still be approved by the full City Council at its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Belleville City Hall.
Joseph Harnist II, a past president of Belleville Jaycees, said annexing the portion of the park in Swansea into Belleville is something the organization has been trying to get accomplished since they bought the land and developed the park.
Harnist was a past president of the Jaycees when the group started raising money for the park in the 1980s. The Jaycees raised the money to develop the $400,000 park from years of Oktoberfest celebrations and securing grants and donations.
He said the annexation will benefit both the city and the Jaycees as grant funding is more accessible for the park if it's located in one jurisdiction.
"It was always just a situation we couldn't get grants from one place or another," Harnist said, noting the organization would like to apply for funding to add lighting to one of the fields and pave the driveway and parking area.
The park has three soccer fields and an all-purpose field where the Little Knights Football and Cheerleading Club meets.
Harnist said the Jaycees recently completed a restroom and storage facility at the park.
Belleville's Parks and Recreation Department maintains the park.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.