A presentation to the village council from West Cook YMCA board members Monday night received mixed reactions, as commissioners said they could not provide much feedback on the project until the Y was ready to talk dollars and cents.
Mayor Anthony Calderone prefaced the discussion by stating that price would not yet be discussed because “if the council didn’t feel the proposed site plan would work, the price is meaningless.”
“The concept is great but until you attach some dollar signs to it it’s going to be difficult to make any decisions,” said Commissioner Terry Steinbach.
Commissioner Mark Hosty said that during the past closed session meeting, the primary concerns that arose were how much land the YMCA would purchase and whether it would own the space used for soccer and baseball fields or rent it from the village.
If the YMCA were to rent the space for the fields, Calderone said, they would still be responsible for maintenance.
The current site plan includes one soccer field and one baseball field, and encompasses 6 acres. Calderone said that about 8 acres of the 11 acre village site are developable.
Hosty expressed a concern that since the site plan calls for the YMCA to stand on the most valuable portion of the Altenheim property, the village would have difficulty selling the remaining land in the future if the YMCA were to rent the field space.
“We want to know how much land the Y wants, how much of it they want us to own, and if they only want two acres, which two acres,” said Hosty.
Calderone took an informal survey of the commissioners, and all agreed that they would prefer to see the YMCA purchase the entire six acres to avoid the scenario Hosty had predicted.
Commissioner Patrick Doolin asked whether the YMCA expected an increase in usage, and therefore an increase in traffic, if it were to move into a new facility.
James Lencioni, senior architect for the YMCA, said that though the new facility would likely get more traffic, past studies have shown that the increase would mostly come from elderly and disabled people who were not able to access the old facility.
Because of this, he said, the increase would largely be seen during daytime hours.
The commissioners also briefly discussed the idea of consolidating services currently provided by the village that would be replicated by the YMCA, which YMCA officials said is a common practice in other municipalities.
Calderone alluded to the possibility of moving all services currently provided at the Forest Park Community Center to the YMCA. “We’ve talked about moving staff over from the Community Center,” he said. “There are capabilities we currently don’t have because of the constraints of the building, and it would free up a piece of real estate we could perhaps dispose of.”
YMCA President Scott Gaalaas said he has also been in touch with Forest Park Park District officials to discuss potential collaborations, including use of the YMCA’s indoor swimming facilities during the winter.
According to the current plan, the YMCA will have two swimming pools, one for competitive swimming and one designed to fit the needs of the elderly and disabled.