Click here for maps of the proposed parking lots
Dozens of residents turned out Monday to hear the village’s proposal to buy six residential properties to make way for parking, and the outcry prompted officials to hold off on the decision for at least another two weeks.
At the Nov. 13 council meeting, village commissioners were presented a total of eight ordinances authorizing the municipality to begin negotiations with property owners, and if necessary, to invoke the state’s eminent domain laws. Six of the parcels are located near Madison Street and would provide the village with an estimated 50 to 55 additional parking spaces.
Of the two remaining properties on the agenda, one would be obtained to preserve existing parking at the Green Line CTA station. The other, located at 1000 Beloit Ave. and 7442 Harvard St., would be converted into a police substation.
Commissioners spoke at length about the harsh reality of forcing residents from their homes, but a majority appeared resigned that something must be done to alleviate the parking crunch. Commissioner Patrick Doolin suggested a public hearing be held at the next council meeting to give property owners a chance to make their case.
However, Doolin and several others said they did not expect to be swayed.
“I don’t oppose having a public hearing at all, but is it going to change anything,” Commissioner Tim Gillian asked.
A study of the village’s parking needs determined that additional 158 parking spaces would ease the current strain. If approved, the acquisitions would add an estimated 30 to 35 spaces to the lot at the corner of Madison Street and Circle Avenue. Another 20 spaces would be added to the lot at Constitution Court.
Mayor Anthony Calderone said it’s clear that a majority of the council does not favor building a parking garage.
Village Administrator Mike Sturino explained that surface lots are less expensive to build, cheaper to maintain, more convenient and safer than parking garages.
“We’re taking incremental, measured approaches that are fiscally responsible while making a significant impact [in the parking shortage],” Sturino said.
Patty McKenna is a resident of 419 Thomas Ave. and her home is among those the village is looking to acquire.
In her remarks to the council, McKenna, a 13-year resident, suggested that each commissioner imagine the proposed takings involved their own property.
“I want you all to remember these are not lifeless structures,” McKenna said. “They’re homes.”
Next door to McKenna lives Maneesh Kumai and his sister Monica, whose family has owned the property at 417 Thomas Ave. for decades. Maneesh Kumai said he will attend the public hearing to address the council.
“I’ll try to focus on alternatives,” Kumai said.