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.
“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.
Among the concerns that arose was whether the YMCA would own the space used for soccer and baseball fields on the former Altenheim property or rent it from the village. About 8 acres of the 11 acre site at the Altenheim are developable, Mayor Anthony Calderone said. The YMCA is negotiating with the village to move from its current location in Oak Park.
The commissioners all seemed to prefer selling the space. Calderone said that he saw the idea of temporarily leasing the field space as a way to “lessen the impact” of the purchase for the YMCA.
Calderone said that he felt the insistence on discussing price was premature, and left the meeting “a little bit disappointed.”
“My feeling is that the Y feels we can come to common ground on price”they know what the village is looking for. … I believe by their continuing effort to meet, they’ve accepted that,” he said. “I would rather we had a dialogue about the preference of location of the building and site.”
Calderone said he also would have liked to engage the commissioners in a conversation about potential collaborations between the YMCA and the village including use of YMCA fields for Little League games and potential obstacles such as parking.
The current 6-acre YMCA site plan includes one soccer field and one baseball field as well as two swimming pools, one for competitive use and the other for the elderly and disabled. It provides space for 260 parking spots.
The village’s asking price, Calderone said, was roughly $1 million per acre.
Moving the community center
Despite the focus on funds, Calderone did get the chance to propose one major collaboration with the Y during the meeting, suggesting the possibility of the community center moving its staff and services to the new facility.
“If the Y does locate here, it would have state-of-the-art facilities with all the amenities. … We don’t have many of those in our community center,” he said.
Calderone also mentioned the possibility of developing the land where the community center currently stands, at 7640 Jackson Blvd. down the block from village hall.
He said that though the land is somewhat challenging because it is built adjoining an underground water reservoir, there is at least a portion that could be developed.
The reservoir, he said, is located at the center of the U-shaped facility where there is currently an outdoor play area. Still, he said, the municipal parking lots in front of the building as well as a portion of the building itself could be redeveloped.
“We’ll have to see what they offer space-wise and activity-wise, but I’m open to all ideas,” said Community Center Director Bev Thompson.
Calderone said he plans to schedule a town hall meeting to discuss the YMCA in the near future.