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August 16, 2010


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William Dobias

"Ashby Steams over park sale objectors: 'They stink' "

Bob-the smell that is killing you arises from your table, not anywhere else. I'm sorry to read that you personally have descended into this type of criticism. I guess that you're the only one left after Chris Walsh took his turn firing at the objectors.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that you and your associates on the board have spent of our money is solely due to the high-priced and ineffective "downtown" lawyers you have chosen to represent the Park Board. When my neighbors and I first started these objections three years ago, our legal bill was less than half what yours was, and we were using a pair of lawyers who frequently had taken on Ancel, Glink successfully. They practiced out of local offices and represented municipalities and other governmental bodies as well as citizens like us. To make matters worse, you took on another high-priced firm when you chose to file an appeal to one judge's rulings.

You used tax-payer money to run me and my neighbors out of funds and we had to withdraw, but you ran into someone in Orlando Coryell who could act as his own lawyer for quite a period of time and who then hired another suburban lawyer who quickly found the flaw in your sales contract with ARP that lost you the first round in Circuit Court. (A flaw overlooked or arrogantly disregarded by your expensive lawyers and equally expensive broker/consultant.) And now you are up against a group of La Grange lawyers willing to work pro bono because they are so fed up with the arrogance and mismanagement shown by your Board.

Could all this rhetoric from you and Tim Kelpsas be a smoke screen to try and deflect blame before next spring's Park Board election? At that time we'll have a chance to vote on commissioners Penicook (she who should have recused herself from votes on the park land because her husband's firm - UBS- stood to gain substantially from the building of La Grange Place), and Belcaster (the aforementioned broker/consultant who emerged from the shadows of this deal to take Rob Metzger's seat at the expense of a much more highly qualified candidate who had recently moved into the area).

You are conveniently forgetting the real history of the Gordon Park saga which all started when you spent substantially more than the voters had given you for the Recreation Center and issued a $3 million bond of a form that did not require voter approval, thereby avoiding telling us all that you had messed up.

When you couldn't make the debt service on this debt (I estimate to be $300,000 a year) because the new Recreation Center was not performing up to your expectations, you paid several years' debt service by borrowing even more money - again without voter approval.

Enter ARP and their desire to buy the park land in order to build a big enough La Grange Place to justify the bid they had given the greedy downtown YMCA.

At first, we just heard that you wanted to "monetize" our park land with no explanation of how the money would be spent. It was not until you needed to have plans for a new park to justify your petition to Judge Gillis that you came up with the "New Destination Gordon Park." All the time, I'm sure you were counting on retiring that albatross of a $3 million bond.

Now, you have nothing of a park land sale - you might have been able to sell the small southeastern parcel without Shawmut Ave at a point but you weren't satisfied with that. You still have the $300,000 annual debt service that is eating away at your revenue and you have perpetuated the idea of a "new Gordon Park" by pushing that during the referendum on land sale.

Perhaps you should all do us the favor of leaving the board, reducing the "stink" and letting us try and straighten out your mess with a new board.

Joe Bagodonuts

55% of voters approved the sale of this parkland in a referendum held almost two years ago.

In my opinion, these legal fees are the result of a vocal minority that disagree with that democratic result.

I think that they are trying to impose their will and silence the Voice of the People that spoke via the referendum.

KS - Clarendon Hills

As a resident of a nearby village I'm appalled that these so-called public servants are so intolerant and abusive towards fellow residents and taxpayers. And that LaGrange would post the quote "they stink" in the headlines on this website makes me wonder what kind of government you have over there. Everyone who lives in communities along the BNSF railroad has seen local governments ram redevelopment schemes down their throats for the past 15 years. I applaud those residents who don't automatically roll over whenever local officials wave the "tax revenue" carrot-on-a-stick in their faces.

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