Village council plans to vote on the West Cook YMCA’s purchase of nearly eight acres in Forest Park were postponed Monday night.
With three new village commissioners (Michael Curry, Rory Hoskins and Martin Tellalian) joining the village council this past April, Mayor Anthony Calderone said the council wasn’t ready to make a final decision. The YMCA first discussed purchasing the land in 2005, long before the three commissioners were elected.
The council’s agenda for its recent meeting listed a resolution approving the sale of 7.7 acres of surplus village land to the West Cook YMCA in Oak Park for $4.3 million. The non-profit organization wants to move to the Altenheim property located off Madison Street after Oak Park refused to let the YMCA expand its outdated facility at 255 S. Marion St.
It hopes to create a $19 million, 65,000-square foot facility with two indoor swimming pools, an indoor track and indoor basketball and volleyball courts, among other amenities.
Talks between the village council and the YMCA stalled last year when the purchase offer didn’t quite meet the village’s expectations. The property was appraised at $4.6 million. Based on that figure the YMCA is getting a $300,000 discount. However, the council has agreed in principal to a $4.3 million price tag.
In anticipation of a vote, YMCA board members Eleanor Flavin and Terry Nash were in attendance at Monday’s meeting and spoke during the public comment portion of the night’s proceedings.
Flavin said the board is working “diligently” and is dedicated to creating an “amazing YMCA” in Forest Park.
“We have every board member in place committed to this capital campaign, which should be launched at the end of July, middle of August, if everything goes well,” Flavin said.
Scott Gaalaas, president and CEO of the West Cook YMCA, said fundraising efforts will not get underway before a contract on the land is signed. Initially, the non-profit organization will quietly seek out large contributors to help fund the project. Once the donations reach the halfway point, Gaalaas said the YMCA will likely begin publicizing its campaign and reaching out for smaller contributions.
Nash, meanwhile, urged the council to take action on Monday.
“I think this represents a wonderful opportunity for the village to do two things,” Nash said. “One, is to take a non-income producing asset off the village’s books, and two, simultaneously, you are improving the quality of life, I think, for everybody in Forest Park…I would urge that the commission support this sale.”
After meeting in closed session to discuss the deal, council members emerged with few comments and said simply that a vote would not be taken.
“It seems as though more time is needed to go through the agreement,” Calderone said.
Other members of the council did not object to the mayor’s statements. Commissioner Mark Hosty said the council will vote on the YMCA’s land purchase during the next meeting on July 23.