STEPHENSON COUNTY (WIFR) -- A $5.5 million loan sits on the property known as Mill Race Crossing in Stephenson County. The community got their first chance to let county board members know what they wanted done with the land on Monday night.
More than 60 concerned county residents crowded the Freeport Public Library to voice their opinion on the Mill Race property. Eight Stephenson County board members fielded questions from the crowd throughout the meeting.
Five options are currently under consideration on what to do with the land, including re-financing, selling the land or even walking away and defaulting on the loan. Whatever the board ends up deciding, residents say they just want the county to get rid of it.
"Nobody may even want it for free. But I think they need to auction it off, take the highest price you can get and just cut your losses. It's our only hope of getting out from under this thing”, says county resident Ken Ward.
Another option facing board members is negotiating a settlement with Chase Bank, where the loan is financed, to give the county more time to pay the loan. County representatives say a meeting is scheduled with Chase and they hope both sides will be able to work something out.
Stephenson County purchased the 147 acre property in 2006 and planned to turn it into an industrial park. The board is not considering a tax raise to help pay off the loan.