Building purchase warrants scrutiny

With reference to the possible purchase of the Beloit Avenue property: I sincerely hope that the council really digs deep into this one and can justify the expense of purchasing this property, and here’s why.

To begin with, the price of $340,000 or more. Add on the demolition costs – that would be thousands of dollars – at our expense. If demolished and a new building erected, that would be thousands of dollars at our expense. If not demolished and the property would have to be brought up to code and the entire interior (and possibly the exterior) would have to be redone – again thousands of dollars at our expense.

And finally, the real estate tax would be cancelled and the village and schools would not receive their fair share. Add the tax reduction to the residents’ tax bills and again, thousands of dollars at our expense.

As for it possibly being for the police, etc, the squads have computers, phones, etc and are in constant touch with their “home base.”

We have to be more informed; advised of all the benefits, etc before an expenditure of approximately $400,000 to $500,000 is approved.

Al Bucholtz
Forest Park

Toy drive a success

The Girl Scouts from Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park want to thank the communities for their generous “toy” contribution toward the Girl Scouts’ annual toy drive. The drive collected over 1,000 toys for children living in the Austin area. The success of this toy drive was made possible because of you! The Girl Scouts greatly appreciate your continued support and want to wish everyone a happy and joyous New Year!

Patty Traina
Oak Park

Must be the water

Why is no one commenting on the distinct odor that our Forest Park water has had since about November? The water smells like decomposing matter. And why does the Public Works Dept deny that this is so? I know of several residents and businesses that have noticed this, but the powers that be seem to ignore it.

Madeleine Holdsworth
Forest Park

Ignoring the majority

I read with interest your coverage of discussion by the village of opting out of the county smoking ban. It seems that Mr. Hosty plans to lead efforts to exempt Forest Park establishments, particularly his. As with many other Forest Parkers, I am totally opposed to this. Nonsmokers are the majority of the population, but we are ignored by many local establishments, which have poor ventilation and no nonsmoking areas. Thus when we want to eat out, without returning home with our clothing and hair thoroughly permeated by cigarette smoke, we often have to go to Oak Park or elsewhere. Oak Park’s ban has made its eateries much more pleasant for patrons and employees. We enjoy the excellent beef at the Golden Steer although we rarely go there, for not only is the restaurant and bar smoke-filled, but there is no nonsmoking area, tables are closely placed and a patron at the next table may light up right at our elbows. On our last two visits, no other restaurant patrons were smoking, yet there is no nonsmoking area.

La Piazza, being smoke-free, is a wonderful choice in Forest Park, as are the various outdoor eating areas, in season.

This is a topical issue of growing concern, but Forest Park is contemplating bucking the trend. The evidence of the harm of smoking and secondhand smoke is overwhelming. It is only a matter of time before the smoking ban in public places will be universal, whether by Cook County or state of Illinois fiat. Why waste our time and energies fighting the inevitable? And why should our local government disregard the majority of us who do not smoke, who do not wish to inhale secondhand smoke, and who prefer not to reek of stale smoke odors?

Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn is unilaterally making its entertainment venues smoke-free. Oak Park hasn’t had a rash of eateries closing since its ban went into effect. While I don’t insist on making all smoking illegal and smokers into pariahs, I fail to understand why the majority nonsmoking population must continue to suffer from the actions of self-destructive smokers. Why can’t we eat our dinners out savoring the food, free of the taint of smoke? Why can’t we return home from dining out without having to immediately put our clothing to be washed? Why must we return home with our hair and coats reeking of smoke?

Debb W. Hammond
Forest Park

Town homes in excess

Your article in the Jan. 10 edition of the Review includes quotations of some of my statements made during the Plan Commission meeting on Jan. 2. Some of these quotations are not accurate and do not represent my position on the proposed Roos development. As stated in your article, I believe the density of the proposed development is too high. Further, I believe that essentially all of the problems with the proposed development are a direct consequence of the density. However, I am not opposed to all the town homes as stated in the article.

As you reported, the proposed development consists of 70 condominiums and 28 town homes. The town homes are arranged in three separate buildings. Two of the buildings essentially face Hannah Avenue and contain 22 of the 28 town homes. The third building contains six town homes and is located in the interior of the property between the Roos building and the town homes on Hannah. I oppose the excessive number of town homes proposed. Removing the six interior town homes and possibly a few on Hannah would solve essentially all the problems with the development. Reducing the number of town homes would improve emergency vehicle access, allow all traffic to exit on to Hannah Avenue instead of having some cars exit under Circle Avenue, allow the development to meet our zoning requirements for lot build out and set-back requirements on Hannah, allow storm water retention if required to reduce the load on our sewer system during heavy rains, provide increased parking for guests and residents, and thereby allow a parkway on Hannah with trees like most residential streets in our village.

The developer originally proposed 74 condominium units and 30 town homes and is now proposing 70 condominiums and 28 town homes – a reduction of 6 percent. The developer also claims that any further reduction in density would kill the development. The Roos property is zoned R-3 and is the highest density residential zoning in Forest Park. As stated by village staff in their report to the plan commission, R-3 zoning requires a minimum of 161,000 square feet of land for the proposed 70 condominiums and 28 town homes. The Roos property has an area of 107,000 square feet and is 54,000 square feet less than the minimum required for R-3 zoning. Removing 10 town homes would reduce the required land area to 141,000 square feet, which is still over 30 percent greater than the size of the property.

As a Planned Unit Development, the Roos development need not meet all the requirements for R-3 zoning and some latitude is appropriate for this combined condominium and town home development. As someone who grew up on the 800 block of Beloit Avenue, I want to see the Roos building developed and there are many attractive features of the proposed development. However, the proposed density is too high and causes too many problems to be in Forest Park’s best interest. It is time to force reasonable compromises on the developers so that we can solve our problems instead of making them worse.

Marty Tellalian
Forest Park Plan Commission