Friction over parking proposal continues

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By JOSH ADAMS

Though a public hearing on the issue was postponed, residents concerned with a proposal to flatten six residential properties for a downtown parking expansion continued to raise objections at Monday's village council meeting.

The initiative was first pitched on Nov. 13 by Village Administrator Mike Sturino, who saw a vote on the project delayed by public outcry at that meeting. A public hearing was scheduled for the Nov. 27 meeting, however, the absence of Commissioner Tim Gillian pushed the hearing back to mid December.

Carlee Perkins, a resident of 422 Thomas Ave. told commissioners not to push her neighbors from their homes. Further, Perkins argued that expanding two existing lots deeper into residential neighborhoods will bring more "riff-raff" from the bars.

"I'm sure there are other alternatives that could be used," Perkins said.

The council is considering a proposal to add roughly 20 spaces to the existing 41 spaces at Constitution Court and another 30 to 35 spaces to Village Lot #6 at the corner of Madison and Circle streets. That lot contains 28 parking spaces.

Expanding those lots would require the demolition of six privately owned buildings.

A study of the village's downtown parking needs was done in the spring by the engineering firm Robert H. Anderson and Associates. According to a presentation from the firm, the village is short 158 spaces. The proposed lot expansions would meet roughly one-third of that need.

Monica Leventhal, a resident of the 900 block of S. Hannah Avenue agreed with another resident's suggestion to relax some of the downtown parking restrictions until a better proposal comes forward.

"I think other more humane, more just options need to be pursued," Leventhal said.

Charles Woodbury of 401 Elgin Ave. was the first resident to address the council at Monday's meeting. Woodbury advised that eminent domain isn't the way to go about solving the parking shortage.

"I just don't think market value is enough compensation for a home," Woodbury said.

Dissension over the parking proposal spilled over from the floor Monday, disrupting what is typically routine business for the council. Commissioners found themselves divided on whether to pay several bills associated with the parking proposal. Commissioner Patrick Doolin was joined by Commissioner Terry Steinbach in asking that payment for eight bills be withheld. With Gillian's absence the vote was evenly split with Commissioner Mark Hosty and Mayor Anthony Calderone on the other side.

The LaSalle Appraisal Group assessed four homes being eyed by the village for demolition. Those invoices sought payments of $1,500 each. An outside law firm hired in connection with the parking proposal submitted a bill for $2,975.

Doolin also objected to three bills totaling more than $14,600 from the Hervas, Condon and Bersani law firm in connection with legal fees for the police department.

Ultimately, the council withheld payment on all of the bills presented, which totaled more than $1.38 million.

"What they did last night, I've never seen in my eight years of service," Hosty said.

A public hearing on the parking proposal is scheduled for Dec. 11.

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