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June 22, 2009

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Scout

Will this corner remain an eyesore much longer? How many years has this been going on? Aren't we interested in development?

Mr. Coryell, I applaud your general persistence but question your motives in this matter.

WilliamDobias

Scout -
Please don't question Orlando Coryell's motives. From day one of his involvement almost two years ago, he has opposed the use of park land to build a private development. Neither Orlando nor any of the rest of us oppose development of the YMCA property, but believe that a very good and profitable development could be built on the YMCA property without the use of park land.

The trouble is that the Park District jumped on an opportunity (they thought) to "monetize" some park land when they were approached about a small corner of unused land and a parking lot. This response to you is too short to get into what they need that money for. It was the Park District's concern about not getting "short-changed" in the auction, I believe, that led them to executing the contract with ARP before the actual auction which led, in part, to their problems as reported above.

Further compounding the problem is that our Village officials fell in love with the idea of building the biggest development ever built in La Grange (or in neighboring towns for that matter).

And the YMCA got seduced by the extra money that they could realize if the developer squeezed more onto their property by building an access road on park land and getting credits against serious density deviations from code on the YMCA property itself by including park land in the development. All of this being done on property that the YMCA had given to them through generous contributions from people from Cicero to Downers Grove and Willow Springs to Oak Park. The YMCA had other bids and proposals - I've seen one very nice one that only used YMCA land which would not have given the YMCA as much money, but would have been very nice for the Village.

The blighted corner is the millstone of our Village officials. No one insisted that the YMCA clean up the very corner of La Grange Road and Ogden after Jack-in-the-Box vacated it in the 1980's. And the Village did not insist that the YMCA tear down their building after they vacated it. Have you ever noticed how nice the lots on La Grange Road and on Joliet Road in Countryside are after the owners demolished motels and planted grass? We could take a lesson from Countryside.

If ARP leaves this project now, it probably will take a while to get another developer in place. But, the Village can get a very fine development without giving up valuable, scarce park land.

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