Despite rumors that the Forest Park park board had decided not to go forward with acquisition of the Roos property during a closed session meeting on Thursday, Director of Operations Dave Novak told the Review that no decisions had been made and the board still plans to meet with village officials to discuss the property.
“We’re still planning to express our concerns and intentions to the village,” said Novak.
The village council had been scheduled to meet with the park board in closed session at its Sept. 12 meeting, but the joint meeting was cancelled because some commissioners from both boards were unable to attend.
Novak said that since it had proven so difficult to coordinate the schedules of each member of the two boards, he and Park Board President Bud Boy would be willing to meet with Mayor Anthony Calderone to discuss the matter on their own.
Calderone has told the Review on several occasions that he would like to see the park district purchase the property, located at 7329 W. Harrison St. If the park district is unable to afford the property, he has said, he would be willing to consider having the village split the cost.
The property was recently appraised at $1.3 million as an industrial parcel and $2.3 million as residential. The $2,000 cost of that appraisal was split between the village and the park district. Plans for the appraisal were first made on May 18, but a written appraisal was not received until late August.
The property is currently zoned residential because of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation granted by the village, which will expire on the 27th.
Developer Patrick Wangler has stated an asking price of $3.75 million for the property. The property was given the PUD so that he could demolish the buildings and construct 132 new condominiums, but work has not yet begun on that project.
Commissioner Patrick Doolin said that he would like to see a more specific plan stating how the village would use the property once acquired.
“We can’t just acquire, acquire, acquire. At some point we’ve got to make a determination of what we’re going to do with these properties,” he said. “I still haven’t heard of any definitive use.”
He said that purchasing the building as a residential property “makes no sense,” but that he might consider purchasing it as an industrial property to be used as a mixed-use complex for the village and park board.
Still, he said, any such proposal would require a thorough assessment process of the village and park district’s needs and budgetary restraints. He said it would be virtually impossible for the park district to purchase the property on their own, a sentiment that has been echoed by park district officials in the past.
Calderone has previously told the Review that discussions of the property are being conducted in closed session in order to ensure that the discussions do not interfere with future litigation and that the purchase price is not negotiated in the press.
At this point, however, it does not appear that the conversation is anywhere near those stages, as it has not yet even been determined who will be participating in the acquisition should it occur.
“We don’t even know for sure if the building is for sale,” said Novak.