Critics of a village proposal to spend $330,000 on a dilapidated rental property pointed to the absence of any renovation plans in calling the expense a waste of public dollars. Proponents, however, hailed the purchase as visionary and suggested a police substation at the location would one day prove that.
Monday night the village council voted in familiar 3-2 fashion to purchase the property at 1000 Beloit Ave. for $330,000. The property consists of two, two-story buildings on a 25 foot lot, which currently contain five apartments and a storefront.
The village is buying the property from the estate of Mohinder Sharma who recently died. The property was listed for $375,000.
Mayor Anthony Calderone, commissioners Mark Hosty and Tim Gillian voted in favor of the purchase.
“I’d like to see some type of police facility,” Calderone said after the meeting. “I’m most intrigued by putting a community resource center (there). We’re calling it a police substation right now. I think there will be some type of police substation, but I think it can be more than a police substation.”
The ordinance authorizing the purchase of the property specifies it would be used as police substation, but according to village attorney Michael Durkin, the property can be used for any public purpose.
The building is in poor condition and has been a trouble spot for some time. Village Administrator Michael Sturino said acquiring the property is a way to combat blight.
However, commissioners Patrick Doolin and Theresa Steinbach argued the village was rushing into an ill conceived purchase.
“We’re going to purchase it without knowing exactly what we’re going to do with it,” Steinbach said. “I don’t think we’re operating in an efficient manner or a well thought out manner. I don’t think we’re being prudent.”
Doolin pointed out that the village council received no estimates on renovation costs. Additionally, a village-owned lot has sat vacant for years just a couple blocks away in the 1100 block of Lathrop Avenue, Doolin said, and could be used as a police substation if one is needed.
Given the village’s size, though, Doolin questioned whether a substation is necessary.
“There is no demonstrated need for a police substation for a community of 2.25-square miles,” Doolin said. “In effect, every patrol car is a police substation. No matter where a squad car is located it’s about 45 seconds away in an emergency situation. If in fact there is a lack of police presence then we could use the half million dollars to hire additional police officers.”
Doolin decried the lack of a detailed plan for the use of the property.
The village was planning to pay for the purchase in cash from its reserves, but Gillian asked that financing be explored.
Calderone responded to criticisms of poor planning by pointing to past property acquisitions that turned out well. The Ark pet shelter on Madison Street that was eventually converted into Madison Commons and the purchase of the Altenheim property, two-thirds of which is now is being sold to the West Cook YMCA, are both success stories, Calderone said.
The current tenants are on month to month leases and will likely have to move, Calderone said.